I started with the first paragraph about all these folks from overseas watching, but remember something. All attempts to expand the game overseas have failed. Soccer rules most of the world, commentators have a good point, American Football has violence on the field, soccer in the stands. Think rivalries such as Rangers vs. Celtic in Glasgow. Howard Cosell used to complain about American fans. British journalist Lesley Hazelton told him he didn’t know what he was talking about.
We are getting away from the topic though. I used to own Franklin Foer‘s book How Soccer Explains the World. He talked about growing up in the early 1980’s about how suburban parents considered soccer a safer sport and how you wanted to be careful about the role models. The NBA was going through a period of problems with drug use and abuse. (The next few years were Larry Bird vs. Magic Johnson and Air Jordan).
For me, basketball was strictly a game I played as a social thing with friends. Baseball was the sport I was raised with. My parents grew up as Brooklyn Dodgers fans. Yes, kids, the Dodgers weren’t always in Los Angeles. 🙂
Dad convinced me to be a baseball catcher. He told me I would have an easier time making the team. Then I found out WHY you have an easier time. You hurt in places doctors don’t have names for.
You certainly get more exercise playing basketball, rugby and soccer. So why has American Football so permeated our society and why doesn’t the game translate to other societies, even though they will watch the Super Bowl?
I suspect they see it as a window to something very American. Reading How Football Explains America made me realize, our American Experience doesn’t really translate to other societies.
Sal Paolantonio made the point that American Football was created around our Centennial, the year Colorado became a state. The “taming” and “closing” of the frontier. It gave young men a chance to let off energy. Colleges helped draw up rules that separated American Football from Rugby and Soccer, creating a game with fixed strategies and some rules. More had to be created, because there were fatalities. Theodore Roosevelt wanted the game to continue, but the casualties had to be prevented.
Pro Football was different. It wasn’t college kids, but immigrants and their sons, looking to become Americans. The development of the Quarterback as field general.
For me football is the idea of getting up when knocked down and moving on. Pure and simple.
- Football and Americans (evelyneholingue.com)
- Was Ist das Super Bowl?: What Other Countries Say About the Big Game (theatlantic.com)
- Did The Lights Flicker In America’s Foreign Policy? The Answer’s In Super Bowl XLVII (stirringtrouble.wordpress.com)
- Super Bowl Blues: A World Football Fan Confronts America’s Biggest Day of Sport (bleacherreport.com)