If memory serves me right, most Americans used the term “AMERICAN Football” more regularly decades ago. It seems like the “American” part of the name was gradually dropped over a generation or two, especially as the word soccer was adopted for that "other" football game. In spite of the increased Major League Soccer (MLS) popularity in the US these days, it’s not going to be easy for soccer to regain its real name in the US anytime soon (especially if it continues to be called Major League SOCCER). But I guess it’s one battle at a time on the road to greatness.
For all the technology applied in sports today, logic can play a sketchy part here in the US. There is hardly any “foot” in American football, but sure. Let’s call it football. And then there’s the “World” Series... don’t get me started on that one. Anyway, I love the fact that fútbol / fußball is evolving into the American mainstream... slowly but surely.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of goofiness in “soccer”. The theatrics really need to stop, I say drag their asses off the field by their nuts when it’s an obvious fake (please watch Ozzy Man Reviews on soccer “dives”, truly priceless). And yes, a scoreless match should not be rewarded with a “draw”. Off to the penalties shootout for the lot of you. But don’t forget: last Super Bowl’s final score was the equivalent of a 1-0 soccer score: there was only one touchdown in the entire game. So a touchdown is six points plus a practically guaranteed extra point, for a total of seven? Adorable, but why not thirty four plus a practically guaranteed twelve for the PAT?
By the way, for those of you that live in a mutually exclusive world, it is possible to appreciate both sports. I’m a football (soccer) AND American football fan myself. Even if I’ve been condemned to deal with the ownership of the Cincinnati Bengals. Yes, I happen to be a Bengals fan, though I refuse to give any money to the current passionless franchise owner.
Speaking of money, what cracks me up is the TV broadcasts of soccer in the US. I don’t know how Americans, especially the broadcasters, are going to deal with the soccer culture of not showing commercials for 45+ minutes... Good lord, it’s like you’re asking them to hold their breath for 45 minutes.
Here’s the thing about sports and commercials. Besides American football I happen to be a basketball fan as well. But have you ever tried watching the last five minutes of the game on TV? For the love of Tostitos, I don’t know how many commercials I can stomach before I’ve forgotten what I was watching. Thank heavens for the Pepto-Bismol commercial or I would forget how to handle the previous barrage of junk food they sent my way.
Between basketball and American Football you have to think: these are supposed to be 48 to 60 minutes games, respectively. OK, add fifteen minutes of half times, but still: the average Sunday football game is a 3+ hours broadcast, for eleven minutes of action time (calculated by the Wall Street Journal a few years ago). ELEVEN MINUTES. For the love of life, I know people that have sex longer than that (or so they tell me).
Here’s a head-scratching excerpt from that WSJ article: “The average NFL broadcast spends more time on replays (17 minutes) than live play. The plurality of time (75 minutes) is spent watching players, coaches, and referees essentially loiter on the field. An average play in the NFL lasts just four seconds. Of course, watching football on TV is hardly just about the game; there are plenty of advertisements to show people, too. The average NFL game includes 20 commercial breaks containing more than 100 ads.”
Which of course, brings us to the mother of all commercials... you guessed it, the Super Bowl. Ask any red-blooded American and they’ll even admit it: “I don’t care about either team but I love watching the commercials!” Wow, now that’s an impressive accomplishment by our marketing boys & girls. Maybe we should just have six straight hours of commercials every Sunday, interrupted occasionally with score updates from real sport games.
But enough sarcasm, let me wrap up this sporting commentary on a positive note. When it comes to sports, what you grew up with as a kid and shared with your dad, mom, siblings, and friends... is priceless. I don’t care if it’s baseball, football, American football, basketball, hockey, tennis, rugby, or cricket... what unites all sporting games is passion. The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat. That’s what has always made sports great.
Take me out to the ball game
Take me out with the crowd
Buy me some peanuts and crackerjacks
I don't care if I never get back
Let me root, root, root
For the home team
If they don't win it's a shame
For it's one, two,
Three strikes you're out
At the old... ball... game!