Thoughts & Views: I’m not ‘bowled’ over by football



Believe it or not, there are some of us who don’t give a hoot in Hades about the Super Bowl.

I mean, it’s nice that New Jersey is getting some national attention for something other than mobsters, political corruption and Snooki, and it’s even nicer that MetLife Stadium is in our own backyard (wave to it as you cruise past on Route 3), and I have even picked a team (the Broncos because I like horses), but do I really care? No.

I will watch, of course. At least some of it. Just in case something newsworthy happens that I should know about. And because on Monday, everyone will be talking about the commercials.

But I have never understood football.

They run. They fall down. They run. They fall down. This is exciting?

I have only just learned what “first and 10” means. No, I am not joking. It never made sense to me. First and 10 WHAT? Yards? But if they already got the first yard, where are the other 10?

I asked a friend to explain it to me the other night (no, I am not joking), and I think I now have a grasp on it.

Still, I will be channel jumping during the game, to catch the action in the 10th annual Animal Planet Puppy Bowl. This year, there will be penguin cheerleaders and a half-time show featuring Keyboard Cat.

Unlike the Super Bowl, all the Puppy Bowl players are adorable–and have better hair.

My sport has always been baseball. (Not playing. Watching.)

Its rules are far more complicated that football’s, but I learned them literally at my daddy’s knee, sitting on the floor at age 3 or 4, watching the N.Y. Giants on a grainy old B&W television, while he explained the basics. (Daddy had been a semi-pro baseball player back in the days when semi-pro baseball was a big deal. Not only a player, but an MVP, with the trophy to prove it.)

Anyway, I was raised on baseball. I can appreciate the skills needed. Which are far more than the ability to run and fall down (although run and slide is a different matter).

In any case, all this has reminded me of the classic George Carlin routine on violent, gladiatorial football vs. far gentler baseball, with which I am sure you are familiar, but I’m going to quote from it anyway:

“Baseball is a 19th century pastoral game; football is a 20th century technological struggle.”

“Baseball is played on a diamond, in a park. Football is played on a gridiron….”

“Baseball begins in the spring, the season of new life. Football begins in the fall, when everything’s dying.”

“Baseball has the seventh-inning stretch. Football has the two minute warning.”

“Baseball has no time limit; we don’t know when it’s gonna end. Football is rigidly timed, and it will end even if we’ve got to go to sudden death.”

“Football is played on an enclosed, rectangular grid, and every one of them is the same size; baseball is played on an ever-widening angle that reaches to infinity, and every park is different.”

“In football, they have the clip, the hit, the block, the tackle, the blitz, the bomb, the offense and the defense; in baseball, they have the sacrifice.”

“In football, you march downfield and penetrate enemy territory and get into the END zone. In baseball, the object is to go home. And to be safe. ‘I hope I’ll be safe at home!’”

This part, I had not heard before. It compares American football to Britain’s quest for empire:

“. . . that’s what football is, football’s a ground-acquisition game. You knock the crap out of 11 guys and take their land away from them. Of course, we only do it 10 yards at a time. That’s the way we did it with the Indians – we won it little by little. First down in Ohio – Midwest to go!”

Gosh, I miss George Carlin.

–Karen Zautyk

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