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Jan 15 2014

Football doesn’t make sense to me

It’s the most boring game to watch, ever, and it’s also terribly destructive to the saps who play it. Yet Superbowl Sunday comes up in a few weeks, and hordes of people will be watching it. Why? Maybe this chart explains it all:

foobawl

There’s no game there! It’s mostly commercials. Maybe that’s why it’s a popular party focus: there isn’t actually much going on to distract you from drinking beer and chatting with friends.

180 comments

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  1. 1
    unbound

    Wrong! Baseball is the most boring sport of all to watch. Even when something does happen, it isn’t particularly exciting…unless you are drunk, which (like football) much of the audience is.

  2. 2
    robnyny

    It’s not nearly as bad as golf or baseball.

    Baseball: Adjusting your junk and spitting tobacco juice.

    Golf: Standing around about ten time as long as football players, wondering if you could run faster than your mistress to the golf cart.

  3. 3
    rq

    Mostly commercials and players standing around. How exciting!

  4. 4
    Dunc

    Ah, but only cricket offers the prospect of a match that lasts for five days, and still ends in a draw.

  5. 5
    Brandon

    Other people like things that I don’t. This confuses and angers me!

    I like football. I think it needs huge reforms with regard to player safety, but the core of the game is great. It’s highly strategic, involves some of the fastest, most explosive athletes in the world, has tons of personalities and storylines, and so on. The pacing can occasionally leave something to be desired, but also gives time for drama and tension to build. This is true for baseball as well.

    On the unwatchable sports-like substance front, NASCAR will always be number one for me. I just don’t get it at all.

  6. 6
    Nick Gotts

    most explosive athletes – Brandon@5

    I see what you mean about the need for safety reforms.

  7. 7
    doublereed

    I thought people watch the superbowl sunday specifically for the commercials. Usually when the game comes on is when we go back to playing pool or poker or video games.

    But you gotta see those commercials, man.

  8. 8
    grumpyoldfart

    The same arguments could be made against a game of chess, which lasts for hours and hours, but contains only a few seconds where actual moves are being made.

  9. 9
    Brian O

    Well done, PZ. Now Jesus hates America.

  10. 10
    ChasCPeterson

    *shrug*
    more for the rest of us

  11. 11
    Nick Gotts

    My level of interest in any spectator sport reached zero some time in my 20s (IIRC, tennis was the last to lose any appeal), and has continued to decline ever since, so now I find it hard to remain in the same room as a TV showing it, at least if the sound is on. I find it highly significant that David Icke was a TV sports reporter before he became the Messiah.

  12. 12
    emgarcia2002

    Soccer is my dad’s favorite sport. As a kid he would sit there and watch it for hours. I just can’t get in to it. They don’t score much. I guess that’s why when they score the announcer screams to wake everyone up.

  13. 13
    marcus

    “there isn’t actually such going on to distract you from drinking beer and chatting with friends.”
    ‘Nuff said! That is the whole point as far as I’m concerned. It is a stunning waste of resources for a stupid game.

  14. 14
    rorschach

    Yeah sure it’s a ridiculous sport, but hey, the half-time act might accidentally expose a tit, and you will have food for debate for years!!

  15. 15
    Brandon

    NickGotts @6

    I see what you mean about the need for safety reforms.

    I’m not sure if I’m taking the right meaning here, but yeah, the size and speed of the athletes involved is one of the problems. Really though, to me, the biggest problem is that helmets and pads weaponize the athletes more than they protect them. This status quo with regard to the body armor they’re wearing is maintained because the powers that be in the NFL remain relatively convinced that the collisions and violence are what sells; they might be right, I don’t know. Personally, I’d like to see a move to soft-shell helmets, which can protect the head from the ground and in collisions without providing a weapon.

    My level of interest in any spectator sport reached zero some time in my 20s

    I’m 28 now and I find that my interest in spectator sports has branched out some, but not really diminished. I watch less football and basketball than I used to, but since I’ve started to compete in running and cycling events (and hopefully triathlons), I find running, cycling, and tris far more interesting than I used to. I never could quite understand how people could watch someone just run or bike for an hour, but now I get it.

  16. 16
    timgueguen

    Baseball is in p;art a game of strategy. That’s part of why I like it. Soccer and hockey on the other hand have too much pointless running around for my taste.

  17. 17
    Brandon

    Soccer and hockey on the other hand have too much pointless running around for my taste.

    I’m not much of a soccer fan, but the thing is, the running around isn’t near as pointless and chaotic as it looks at a glance. To varying degrees, soccer, hockey, and basketball all have formalized plays, but have an improvisation effect and emergent complexity as players adjust to what their opponents are doing on the fly. The best passers in each sport see things developing before almost anyone else can; it’s a form of spatial intelligence that’s rare and impressive. If you watch a Sidney Crosby subtly position his body to create passing angles that there’s no way you could see in advance, it’s hard not to appreciate it.

    But yeah, it’s not as tactical as baseball. It’s on the fly changes rather than discrete events. Both are pretty cool when you understand what’s going on.

  18. 18
    Dunc

    Brandon @15 – I think Nick @6 may have been making a joke involving the term “explosive athletes”…

  19. 19
    Matt G

    And drinking beer and chatting with friends is bad because…? A friend of mine is no longer watching football because of the conspiracy to cover up the impact of, well, impacts – to the head, specifically. Now THAT is a reason to hate football (or at least the practice of football in the US). Then there is the college sports vs. academics issue….

  20. 20
    left0ver1under

    I wonder how PZ feels about hockey, a game that doesn’t waste a second of playing time. Considering he lives in one of hockey’s US hotbeds (or coldbeds, if you like), he’s got to have an opinion on it.

    For those who want a hard hitting game with no time wasting, the Six Nations tournament begins on February 1st. It makes for great viewing, if you can get it on TV. Rugby doesn’t have the concussion issues that football does.

    http://www.rbs6nations.com/en/matchcentre/match-centre_fixtures-results.php

  21. 21
    Nick Gotts

    Brandon@15, Dunc@18,

    Yes, I was joking. Should perhpas have included the appropriate emoticon, but thought it was obvious!

  22. 22
    Brandon

    I figured as much, but I thought it’d be a good opportunity to rant about my issues with football equipment anyway ;-)

  23. 23
    jnorris

    I hate the commentators who have to tell us about the play we just watched and how important it is to the universe. That’s why I watch the Puppy Bowl.

  24. 24
    Zeno

    I have a perfect record of not watching Superbowls—or World Series. In fact, I’ve never watched sports on TV. My in-person record is spoiled because (a) my father hauled us all to a pro baseball game when I was in high school and (b) my best friend in college became a high school football coach and prevailed upon me to accompany a gaggle of friends to a couple of his games. [yawn] The pizza afterward was okay.

    The biggest thing about being a male who doesn’t like sports is the reaction you get from other guys, who find it unnatural and frightening.

  25. 25
    Weedless Monkey

    Baseball is obviously a much simpler game than pesäpallo. And both lose by light years in comparison to blernsball.

  26. 26
    rq

    Soccer and hockey on the other hand have too much pointless running around for my taste.

    Not much running around in hockey, actually. I think they call it ‘skating’.

  27. 27
    Dunc

    Not much running around in hockey, actually. I think they call it ‘skating’.

    Unless you’re talking about field hockey, indoor hockey, or street hockey… Only ice hockey and roller hockey involve skating, so you could argue that most hockey involves running around.

    Personally, I prefer snooker… I think there’s a lot to be said for a sport where the participants are required to wear waistcoats and bow ties (at the professional level, anyway).

  28. 28
    Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

    @timgueguen

    There’s lots of strategy going on in hockey, it’s just happening at such extreme speed it looks like everything is random and pointless to someone not used to it. There are line match-ups, set plays, set defensive strategies, *and* rapid adaptation of players to new situations that arise.

  29. 29
    frankb

    I am the only one in my family who watches sports. When they see me watching football I explain what is happening by saying “One guy runs with the ball and another guy knocks him down.” That sums it up nicely.

  30. 30
    Dunc

    You want things happening at extreme speed? Watch fencing (particularly sabre). It’s the only sport I know of that’s had to define exactly what “simultaneous” means, down to the millisecond.

  31. 31
    sadunlap

    At first I thought 11 minutes sounded a bit fishy. But I supposed while the clock is running but the players are in a huddle, or purposely letting the clock run out, there’s a lot of nothing to show during the “one hour” of “playing time.” Still, all the hype and noise over 11 minutes (give or take) of something actually happening?!?!

    Marginally related: one day during the stupor-bowl I took a walk not knowing that the game was even taking place. I felt like I was in a Twilight Zone episode as the neighborhood streets looked uncannily deserted. Then I heard yelling from multiple houses all up and down the street break out at the same time. It freaked me out a bit until I figured out that everyone was indoors on a beautiful sunny day watching men wearing comically colorful uniforms bash their heads together. To each his/her own.

    To make the games more entertaining I suggest replacing the numbers on the jerseys with runes. Imagine all those sports fans memorizing runes.

  32. 32
    colnago80

    When I was a kid a million years ago, pro football games took about 2 hours or a bit more. Today, they take more then 3 hours and the reason is TV, the commercials, which, as the graphic shows, are the biggest consumers of time. The same thing is true of baseball which also used to take 2 to 2 1/2 hours for a nine inning game but now invariably takes more then three hours. Much of that is due to the increasing scientific aspect of the game because of the strategies behind pitching and hitting. Back in the golden age of baseball, the number of pitches thrown rarely exceeded 100. Today, it rarely is less then 120 or 130, which explains the dearth of complete games by pitchers.

  33. 33
    Chengis Khan, The Cryofly

    I have tried telling people that the game of American FOOTball where people run around with the ball in their HANDS is brutal and ranks right next to professional boxing and various freestyle martial arts. For saying that some have accused me of being downright an unpatriotic scoundrel. The game requires extreme reforms to the level that no one can touch another player and until the crowd starts to leave the game to go watch dirt biking or monster truck or rodeo…

  34. 34
    Mark Baker

    left0ver1under:

    Rugby doesn’t have the concussion issues that football does.

    Not to the extent that American football does, no, but concussion is a serious issue in Rugby. See:

    http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2013/dec/14/rugby-union-concussion-medical-experts

    for example.

  35. 35
    infraredeyes

    Soccer is my dad’s favorite sport. As a kid he would sit there and watch it for hours. I just can’t get in to it. They don’t score much.

    The low scoring is a feature, not a bug. Scoring is supposed to be hard, and the outcome of skill across the entire team, not something that happens hundreds of times in a single game. Allowing for the possibility of a draw is another feature. If two teams are evenly matched then, yes, a draw is the fairest outcome and allowing them will lead to league rankings that are overall more reflective of the various teams’ merits.

  36. 36
    gussnarp

    Do you have a source for that graphic? For both obvious reasons: verification (not that I’m inclined to disbelieve this) and to give credit where credit is due. And because I want to share it with some people and I’m going to need to source it for their benefit.

    <off topic pet peeve rant> I don’t blame you for posting it this way, maybe you got it from Reddit, or someplace where it had already been stripped of its source. I hate this about the Internet. It wasn’t always this way, sure stuff was often used un-cited, but it was usually easy to trace things back to their source, and often easier to link to an original than to post over, so people had access to the source. But the rise of Facebook, Tumblr, and Reddit (maybe Pinterest, I don’t know enough about it to blame it) have created a situation where most anything that’s graphical will get posted entirely scrubbed of a source link, then shared again, and again, and again, and soon no one can track down who deserves credit (or blame).</off topic pet peeve rant>

  37. 37
    MadHatter

    I can pretty much only watch the sports that are over in 2 minutes or less. And that makes me the odd one out in my family. Every damn Sunday my FB feed is filled up by my family giving play by play’s that I’m sure they’re watching together anyhow.

    I never seek out sports on TV, have never really understood the appeal. I’d rather be doing something myself. I will admit that the games themselves (at least for soccer and hockey) can be a lot of fun to go to in-person, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to attend. Much like church, it always seemed like a waste of perfectly good time I could be doing something outdoors and fun.

    The superbowl commercials can be fun though.

  38. 38
    b. - Order of Lagomorpha

    I can’t think of too many human endeavors that don’t have the risk of injury. My first love was and is baseball and I played it for 12 years as a catcher. I have the knees to prove that–2 surgeries on my left, 6 on my right and the next one on the right leg will be a knee replacement some day. There isn’t a morning I get up where my knees don’t hurt and if I had to do it all over again? I’d still play baseball. I’d still be a catcher. The teamwork, the feel of a win, the way it feels when you do something physical absolutely right and the play is perfect..it’s addictive.

    As for football, I only root for the Seahawks (since 1976, baby!) and, playing as they are this year, there’s a decent chance I’ll be following the Superbowl. I hate to see people get hurt, but I love seeing Sherman get a pick or a deep throw by Wilson or Lynch powering through with six guys hanging off of him. Again, it’s seeing something physical and, in many cases, amazing, done by humans.

  39. 39
    sundiver

    It’s long past time to create a league for the ultimate team sport, Forty-Three Man Squamish! Daisy Cutter has already claimed the job as general manager of the Cleveland Steamers but there are still plenty of positions available with the other franchises, the Washington Bureaucrats, the New Orleans Webfeet, the New Jersey Traffic Jams, the Milwaukee Cheeseheads and many more. Get in on the ground floor of a league bound to be a bigger embarrassment to the US than George Bush and Alan Keyes combined.

  40. 40
    Georgia Sam

    I’m curious to know how those researchers distinguished between “players standing around” and “game action.” If they put players taking their positions and getting into their stances for the next play in the “players standing around” category, I would disagree. I know this won’t make sense to a football hater, but those activities are interesting to a fan. How is the offense lining up? How is the defense lining up? What are the implications for what the play will be and how the defense will try to stop it? How many players are in the offensive backfield? Where are the receivers? Is the defense preparing for a run or a pass? Yeah, I know, the haters’ response to all this is a big yawn, but there is a lot more going on between plays than just players standing around, and meanwhile the suspense is building up, to be broken when the play is run. This a big part of football’s appeal to those who understand it. Incidentally, another thing I’ve observed about football (and maybe this applies to other sports as well) is that the best way to learn the game is to play it. It’s hard to explain what’s happening on the field to someone who has never played.

  41. 41
    AussieMike

    But there is something going on PZ. You can sit around and watch the beginnings of chronic traumatic encephalopathy. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/league-of-denial/

  42. 42
    Rob Grigjanis

    infraredeyes @35:

    The low scoring is a feature, not a bug.

    Coming to North America decades ago, I was amused, then increasingly annoyed, at all the helpful suggestions to make soccer more popular, i.e. increase the goal count. Make the goals bigger, eliminate offside, etc. If you don’t like it, don’t play it, don’t watch it. Simple. It’s still the beautiful game to me, though a bit less so since I had to stop playing. Men’s World Cup just a few months away!

  43. 43
    gussnarp

    Football is a huge problem. Basically we tell kids raised in the most appalling conditions of poverty and violence that we simply don’t care about them unless they can succeed at a violent game sacrificing their bodies for our entertainment. We under-fund and undermine the public schools in poor neighborhoods and offer only running fast and delivering violent hits as an escape route. We suit up children in helmets and pads to condition them to violence from an early age. Then we cull them, year after year abandoning those who couldn’t cut it or were too badly injured to continue back to poverty and lack of education and career options. But even at that, we don’t actually educate them. We encourage them to spend more time on football than on school work and pass them and graduate them anyway, as long as they help us beat the other team and make money. Then we send them off to college unable to read and they’re accepted and given full scholarships in spite of not coming anywhere near the academic requirements of the college and in spite of all the other kids from their neighborhoods, or others, who perhaps avoided temptation, or weren’t as good at sports and who worked hard believing that if they learned, they could get out of poverty through education who couldn’t quite get in to the same college with test scores far above those of the football players. Then we make excuses about how we’re actually helping them and we provide tutors to help them catch up, ignoring the fundamental lie: even if they were already academically prepared, they’d be hard pressed to keep up with college and the demands of the football program that’s paying their way. There’s almost no chance anyone can actually catch up academically from behind under those conditions. So the “tutors” do their class work for them, we help them cheat, and they get through college. Unless they get injured, or can’t cut it in the football program, then they’re right back where they started from, uneducated and poor. And we haven’t even paid them a dime for the time and physical health they’ve sacrificed. Finally, a handful of them make it to the professional level and get paid, sometimes exorbitantly because that’s the lure that keeps enough kids coming into the system to squeeze out exceptional athletes at the top. But most of them can’t begin to understand their contracts, some can’t even read them, so they’re at the mercy of the agents and the NFL. They also haven’t been taught anything about economics, or even budgeting and saving, and the money is pissed away, especially if they’re unfortunate enough to have an early career ending injury, or just not be good enough. Then the money flow stops. Or it stops five or ten or, if they’re very luck, fifteen years later. And if they haven’t saved wisely, they’re stuck making bad local furniture store commercials for the rest of their lives while their cognitive abilities decline year over year from the long term effects of the traumatic brain injuries, their joins deteriorate, and who knows what psychological and physical effects of the steroids they took for years and are coming down off of. And oh yeah, they’re on their own for their medical bills, which can make even millions saved up dwindle pretty fast.

    So it’s also a bad entertainment value for the public? What a shame….

    Mandatory reading on football in higher ed: http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/07/us/ncaa-athletes-reading-scores/

  44. 44
    Dunc

    It’s long past time to create a league for the ultimate team sport, Forty-Three Man Squamish!

    The ultimate team sport is 5-A-Side Chinese Checkers Boxing Unicycle Football On Ice. (Football as in soccer.)

  45. 45
    Rob Grigjanis

    @38:

    There isn’t a morning I get up where my knees don’t hurt and if I had to do it all over again? I’d still play

    Hallelujah and amen.

  46. 46
    gussnarp

    Addendum to my rant: I freaking love to watch football. I have screamed at my home town teams defenders to do terrible things to the other team’s offensive players. I have watched with delight as Warren Sapp and Simeon Rice and John Lynch simply clobbered opposing quarterbacks again and again. And if a game is on at the bar at a restaurant where I’m eating, I can’t look away. But I won’t turn it on at home anymore, I won’t pay for merchandise or tickets or otherwise support it financially, and I won’t share it with my kids. I love football, but I’m through with it. I can’t be a part of that anymore.

  47. 47
    davedell

    The movie ‘Nebraska’ has a tremendous tragicomic scene where a roomful of mostly elderly men are watching pro football. Not that they care about the game, particularly. Not that the comradeship of watching it together is the draw. Not that it is an excuse to drink beer and lust after cheerleaders.

    Others might interpret the scene differently but to me it seems that it is merely mindless, vacuous semi-entertainment. Something done to pass the time between now and whenever death takes you.

    Worth the ticket price for this scene alone. A fine movie, well worth the price and time otherwise as well.

  48. 48
    Ishikiri

    @35 infraredeyes:

    The low scoring is a feature, not a bug. Scoring is supposed to be hard, and the outcome of skill across the entire team, not something that happens hundreds of times in a single game. Allowing for the possibility of a draw is another feature. If two teams are evenly matched then, yes, a draw is the fairest outcome and allowing them will lead to league rankings that are overall more reflective of the various teams’ merits.

    Exactly. As I tell my soccer-disparaging friends: every goal successfully defended is worth celebrating.

  49. 49
    Marshall

    Who made that infographic? I doubt the WSJ, since they undoubtedly would have fixed “commericals.”

  50. 50
    Nick Gotts

    Rob Grigjanis@45,

    I’m wondering if your response would be the same to a junkie saying that despite the health costs, they’d do it all again for the feel of that first hit of the day. If not, why not?

  51. 51
    Rob Grigjanis

    gussnarp @43:

    Then we cull them, year after year abandoning those who couldn’t cut it or were too badly injured to continue back to poverty and lack of education and career options.

    That’s a huge problem in soccer, especially regarding young Africans.

    http://sports.yahoo.com/news/soccer-trafficking-young-african-players-still-rampant-104858696–sow.html

  52. 52
    David Marjanović

    Well done, PZ. Now Jesus hates America.

    Thread won.

    Soccer is my dad’s favorite sport. As a kid he would sit there and watch it for hours. I just can’t get in to it. They don’t score much. I guess that’s why when they score the announcer screams to wake everyone up.

    They don’t score much anymore*, but they spend lots of time almost scoring. That provides an element of suspense and excitement to which most people over here seem to be addicted.

    * Odio eterno al calcio moderno, say the Italians: eternal hate to modern soccer. They still play it. It’s a pretty “good” substitute for religion.

    The biggest thing about being a male who doesn’t like sports is the reaction you get from other guys, who find it unnatural and frightening.

    *snort* None of them ever found me frightening.

  53. 53
    Rob Grigjanis

    Nick Gotts @50: Other people’s passions can easily look like addictions to those who don’t share them. Do you do a cost-benefit analysis of the things you love to do?

  54. 54
    otocump

    Well, the important thing is you’ve found a way to feel superior to someone else who enjoys something.
    No seriously.

    I’ve given this a bunch of thought down the years, being a baseball fan having to ‘defend’ why I enjoy what I enjoy.

    So what if the stats say the ‘game-play’ time is very little. Does that diminish the enjoyment someone gets from it? So what if there are excessive amounts of commercials, all of broadcast history there is more commercials then content in just about every way.

    So what if someone thinks baseball (my sport) or football (not exactly my sport, yet somehow I do Stats for the CFL and get paid for it) is boring and don’t ‘get’ why I enjoy it. Big whoop. I don’t like things they like too. Doesn’t make them less interesting to them.

    Long and short about enjoyment of a sport…So. What.

  55. 55
    mikeedwards

    I found an interesting article about the distances run in various sports:
    here:

    The article claims the average distance run for an NFL player is about 0.2 miles. In 3 hours.
    Rugby’s the game for me. The players have to be fast, tough, strong and fit.

  56. 56
    Alverant

    How is soccer like the Twilight movies? Both are a bunch of people running around, there’s very little scoring, and if we say it’s boring the fans say that we just don’t get it.

    :)

  57. 57
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    Do you do a cost-benefit analysis of the things you love to do?

    Can’t speak for others, but yes.

    I love to ski. I destroyed my knee in the Army. I want to ski again. The chances of me doing something surgery-requiring to my knee, thus costing me hundreds in co-pays and weeks or months out of work, tells me that it is not worth it for me to ski.

    I drove down to Florida and back in December. I have a car that will cruise, quite comfortably and reasonably safely, at 90 to 100 mph. But it would destroy my fuel mileage and increase the chances of getting a massive ticket. Is that worth it to save about three hours on a 16-18 hour drive? No.

    Just two examples. I suspect we all do this — not formally, of course — without even calling it a cost-benefit analysis.

  58. 58
    Leo Buzalsky

    I am a bit curious about the 11 minute number. Primarily, does pre-snap count as “shots of players standing around”? I could see that lumped in that category, but I find that to be incorrect. (Looking even closer, the text with the graph provides further information of “time the ball is in play.” So, yeah, I’m guessing pre-snap is not included. It should be. Note: Pre-snap, by my definition, would begin as soon as the center places his hand on the ball at the line of scrimmage.)

  59. 59
    Leo Buzalsky

    @56 Alverant

    You should try playing soccer sometime. That helped me gain an appreciation for the sport and that’s when I “got it.”

    Also, in regards to numerous other comments here, soccer can indeed be boring to watch. But when you actually play the sport, you have to be ready at nearly all times. And it’s great exercise, too!

  60. 60
    Trebuchet

    Got your tickets for Sunday’s Seahawks game yet PZ? Since you’re a native Puget Sounder and all that? I must confess I’ll be watching.

  61. 61
    gussnarp

    @Marshall #49: This looks like the WSJ article the data comes from, but the graphic doesn’t seem to come from WSJ: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052748704281204575002852055561406?mg=reno64-wsj&url=http%3A%2F%2Fonline.wsj.com%2Farticle%2FSB10001424052748704281204575002852055561406.html

  62. 62
    twas brillig (stevem)

    re #4:

    Thank you, for being the first to mention cricket as a do-nothing sport with no clock (like baseball) that can still end in a draw (unlike baseball). I was afraid that I would be the first to mention it as I am such a non-sports fan and such an Ameerican that everything I know about cricket is that it is very slow and derived from basketball [Americans invented every team sport first], and to rant about football [not what you call footbal, euro's; the proper name is soccer] can’t be done without claiming cricket is much worse and every american sport is thus better than every other sport in the world. Before I get too ranty, just want to say I’ve always been a watcher of the Superbowl, but ONLY for the commercials. All the new commercials are aired for the first time at the Superbowl (e.g. Apple’s Mac1984 commercial aired only once, and it was during the Superbowl). The halftime show is also a pretty extreme spectacle [not even counting a possible "nippleslip"]. Seeing two teams run into each other for maximum damage it totally unappealing. Like watching NASCAR purely for the crashes, no-crashes is a boring race. Chess is not a sport, a mental challenge, action not required to make it exciting, but the virtual battle the pieces represent is more exciting that watching people hit each other [don't even mention boxing, UFC, nor WWE]
    So when’s the game starting, got my beer and pizza ready…

  63. 63
    Naked Bunny with a Whip

    @grumpyoldfart:

    The same arguments could be made against a game of chess

    And if televised chess tournaments were pulling in tens of billions of dollars, then those arguments would be relevant.

  64. 64
    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    Grumpyoldfart

    The same arguments could be made against a game of chess, which lasts for hours and hours, but contains only a few seconds where actual moves are being made.

    Chess is not generally considered a spectator sport, though.

  65. 65
    Rob Grigjanis

    Ogvorbis @57: Sure. The benefit I got from soccer was many many hours of joy, and the incidental benefits of fitness and camaraderie. The benefits I got from bicycle commuting (much more dangerous than soccer, especially in Toronto) were the pleasure of exertion and stress relief in a tough job. Thing is, I didn’t think of those things, or the potential costs, when I chose to do them. Call me irresponsible :-)

  66. 66
    Rey Fox

    Personally, I’ve found sports to be one of the very few things I can stand having on television anymore. But the commercials are still there to intrude.

    I thought people watch the superbowl sunday specifically for the commercials.

    Those people should be avoided at all costs.

  67. 67
    Lance Pergande

    I wanted to chime in on the veracity of that 11 minutes. A while back I had a season of DirecTV’s Sunday Ticket. Part of that package came with “condensed” replays of the games later in the week. They were “snap to whistle”, back to back. No lag between plays. There was an occasional replay of an outstanding play but not too many. There would also be the inserting of a ref giving the call if there was a penalty on the play. Those took almost half an hour (pay TV, no commercials). There was not 19 minutes of downtime during those replays. So, I call foul on the “11 minutes” claim.

    What makes this silly is that stating there is only 30 minutes of actual football during the course of a 3 hour plus game makes the point adequately. There is no need to exaggerate it down to 11 minutes, unless you enjoy people calling you out on making stuff up.

  68. 68
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    stevem:

    Like watching NASCAR purely for the crashes, no-crashes is a boring race.

    Since NASCAR began mandating the two newest generations of cars, crashes have gone down (the cars drive better) but there is still really good racing, rubbing, and strategy. To me (yes, I am a NASCAR fan (insert derision here)), the racing has gotten better, the intervals of victory (in the 1970s, races were decided by laps, now it is 1,000th of a second) are closer, and the strategic decisions are much more important. So no, NASCAR is not high-speed demolition derby.

  69. 69
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    Rob Grigjianis @65:

    Call me irresponsible

    No, because that is not what I was trying, quite ineptly, to do. so, yeah, whatever.

  70. 70
    Rob Grigjanis

    Ogvorbis @69: It was a joke, mate. I know you weren’t trying to do that.

  71. 71
    Bernard Bumner

    @mikeedwards #55

    The article claims the average distance run for an NFL player is about 0.2 miles. In 3 hours.
    Rugby’s the game for me…

    Me too.

    Elite Union players run an average of 4.45km (front row) to 6.84km (scrum half) and average time on pitch ranges from 75.63mins for front row to 91.63mins for inside backs.

  72. 72
    mnb0

    Football is exciting! Watch this beauty:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GleZKDhQudE

    Or this impossible curve:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PFtphVAu2fA

    Oh wait – you were discussing handegg. My bad.

  73. 73
    mnb0

    OK, for those who think football – what the rest of the world calls football that is – boring I have two golden oldies:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yMIFWM2yJW8

  74. 74
    Bernard Bumner

    @mnb0 #72

    But then there is this beautiful example of the proper, British and Irish, method for chasing an egg.

  75. 75
    Rob Grigjanis

    mnb0 @73: Of the many great Dutch footballers, Bergkamp is my favourite. A fucking artist. Pardon my French.

    Of course, being from Leeds, my boyhood hero is Scottish. His first goal in that game was pretty good as well.

  76. 76
    Danny Butts

    Gosh! lots of rugby fans here. As a Welsh person living in E. London I think I’ve seen more rugby conversation on this board than in the last 5 years of real life :D

    I’m interested in the idea of all the padding in American Foot(pah!)ball being for weaponizing the players rather than for erm “effeminate” protection, which is how most rugby fans view it.

    Also, anyone from our side want to take on Stevem’s characterization of cricket @62? I’m a little under the weather at the moment, and cant work out if their opinion of our game of sporting zen-chess comes from sarcasm and/or ignorance.

  77. 77
    Weedless Monkey

    Personally, I prefer snooker… I think there’s a lot to be said for a sport where the participants are required to wear waistcoats and bow ties (at the professional level, anyway).

    QFT. Too bad it’s only available here on Eurosport, which is packaged with a ridiculously expensive bunch of channels that I have absolutely no interest in. (Seriously, cable providers? If I want to watch snooker and biathlon do I really have to have movies I’ve already seen, “reality tv”, and Disney for the kids I’ll never have with it?)

    I’d gladly pay them a decent €5-10 a month for the entertainment, like I already do for Netflix, but as it is, piracy is the best option.

  78. 78
    doublereed
    I thought people watch the superbowl sunday specifically for the commercials.

    Those people should be avoided at all costs.

    What! Superbowl commercials are usually really good. They pull out all the stops, considering it costs like a couple million for 30 seconds or something.

  79. 79
    doublereed

    The only sports I watch nowadays are Starcraft 2 and Video Game Speedrunning.

  80. 80
    Weedless Monkey

    Australian rules football seemed like it could be interesting, but I couldn’t decipher what the point is. I’ve read through the Wiki page with glazed eyes and watched a few games, but it all seems to focus on climbing on top of a player of the opposite team.

  81. 81
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    I think the appeal of football is that it’s simultaneously byzantine and brutal, and the outcome of games really, truly doesn’t matter, so there are fewer practical barriers to emotional investment in it.

  82. 82
    Danny Butts

    Bernard @74

    Lots of Williams’s and Davies’s in that Penarth Rugby club attack.

    Not remembering much of the ’70s, my bestest ever starts at 2.19 of this wonderful compendium (not safe for English)

  83. 83
    twas brillig (stevem)

    re Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.:

    <NASCAR tangent>
    Og’ I wasn’t talking about NASCAR as a sport, but how many “fans” only watch it for the crashes. Even so, as a jalopnik[TM]; NASCAR, being left turns only, is hardly driving at all. Give me F1 or Grand Prix. “Canyon Carving” is the only fun (i.e. challenging) way to drive. /NASCAR

  84. 84
    Rey Fox

    Amazing, we got 72 whole comments in before someone trotted out football/soccer/handegg. Google Alert must be down today.

    Superbowl commercials are usually really good.

    Lavish and expensive, yes. They’re still commercials (still generally dumb and sexist too), and sitting down to watch the advertising spectacle of the year just seems utterly sad to me.

  85. 85
    twas brillig (stevem)

    re WeedMonkey:

    We Murricuns always laugh at the title: “Australian Rules Football”; we always describe it as “take a bunch of thugs and toss them a football. Don’t even think of telling ‘em the rules or nothin’.” or “‘Australian Rules Football’ is an oxymoron, just watch a game to see it’s so.”

  86. 86
    Rey Fox

    #81: People complain about the irrational tribalism in sports, but I sometimes think that sports are good to have around as a relatively harmless avenue in which to channel such impulses.

  87. 87
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    handegg!

    HANDEGG!!!!

    Why have I not heard that before?
    It’s freakin’ awesome. I’m laughing so hard right now.

    Also, from Brandon:

    To varying degrees, soccer, hockey, and basketball all have formalized plays, but have an improvisation effect and emergent complexity as players adjust to what their opponents are doing on the fly. The best passers in each sport see things developing before almost anyone else can; it’s a form of spatial intelligence that’s rare and impressive. If you watch a Sidney Crosby subtly position his body to create passing angles that there’s no way you could see in advance, it’s hard not to appreciate it.

    One word: Diana Taurasi.

  88. 88
    zibble

    @86: It’s a pop psychology mistake to think that impulses need an outlet. When you spend your free time practicing tribalism, you’re just cultivating a tribalist mindset.

    Not that every sports fan enjoys football out of tribalism, but I have noticed the ones that do tend to be on the Republican-shithead side of the spectrum.

  89. 89
    Weedless Monkey

    We have a major party leader who is a Millwall fan and catholic, and people can’t decide which one is weirder…

  90. 90
    methuseus

    To add to the couple people saying that Americans treat you oddly if you are a man that does not enjoy watching sports: It’s almost worse if you say you don’t really like watching sports except for soccer. I enjoy playing most sports, but can’t stand watching most because I find them boring. I like soccer because you see what’s going on in the player’s mind as to angles and trajectories and such. Also, you have the potential to involve almost every single player on your team in a play, and it’s rare to involve less than three. Contrast to baseball where there’s really only one player involved at any time, and football in which a single play rarely involves more than two people.

    I also enjoy watching hockey, but without the desire to play it, I’m less likely to sit and watch it than soccer.

  91. 91
    jacobbasson

    Even to the extent that there is only action going on for 11 minutes, I like football because of the complex strategy of that 11 minutes. However it is also a mistake to overlook what’s going on pre-snap, early in the play sure it’s just people standing around in the huddle but as the play clock gets below ~10 seconds, people moving in to various positions to try to disguise what’s coming is quite interesting (the ability to quickly process that and make the right decision in response is one of the things that separates quarterbacks). That 11 minutes is based on snap-to-whistle time but pre-snap is definitely part of the action.

  92. 92
    Weedless Monkey

    methuseus

    I like soccer because you see what’s going on in the player’s mind as to angles and trajectories and such. Also, you have the potential to involve almost every single player on your team in a play, and it’s rare to involve less than three.

    Which makes multiplayer football (soccer) video games even more engaging. Often, when yoy have two players it’s the default to play against each other. But I think it’s much more fun to play as a team. You can discuss tactics and try them out all along.

    (I admit, I also play manager games. I’m that kind of a geek)

  93. 93
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    On the NASCAR tangent:

    Is NASCAR one of the “go fast, turn left” sports? Or is there only one “go fast, turn left” racing circuit? (pun intended)

    When I was a kid I heard some comedian (lost to my memory now) riffing on what was & wasn’t a sport (actually criticizing most of them). I clearly remember “go fast, turn left” because my mom had recently shown me exactly that form of auto racing after I asked a question about auto racing (probably a more general question than about any circuit, like how fast to race cars go or something) and she happened to notice a race on TV a week or two later.

    Seriously, the go fast, turn left makes even less sense than something like Le Mans where the physical work of driving for 24 hours straight around reverse hairpins can really tax a body.

  94. 94
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    @Weed Monkey:

    (I admit, I also play manager games. I’m that kind of a geek)

    Okay, I’m enough removed from the worlds of sports and electronic gaming that when my most recent comment posted (93) and this line was right above it without context, I read it:

    I also play manger games

    and my mind was wondering what sort of riffing off of combining Rudolph the red nosed reindeer and christian creches on town property this might constitute.

    If you do decide to play such, I please allow me to join in any manger games. They sound…weird, but fun.

  95. 95
    Area Man

    Also, anyone from our side want to take on Stevem’s characterization of cricket @62? I’m a little under the weather at the moment, and cant work out if their opinion of our game of sporting zen-chess comes from sarcasm and/or ignorance.

    Goodness. I think his point was that if you want to attack a sport like American football for taking too long and having lengthy breaks in the action, then that’s easy to do for any number of sports. That doesn’t make them bad sports.

    As we see on this thread, sports can be derided and supported for contradictory reasons — not enough continuous action, not enough “zen-chess”, too much violence, too much padding, infrequent scoring, scoring is too easy, etc. These aren’t arguments for any one sport being objectively superior to another, they’re just expressions of personal taste and/or acculturation.

  96. 96
    Weedless Monkey

    Crip Dyke, sounds kinky but my kind of fun :)

    Actually, the word seimi (Finnish for manger) was so out of my upbringing that I reached my teens before realising it also meant something else than a place you place a baby Jesus in. And I grew up in a farm since eight years old, FFS. It just never came up.

  97. 97
    Rey Fox

    football in which a single play rarely involves more than two people.

    This is a pretty ignorant thing to say.

  98. 98
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    NASCAR and then I’ll shut up.

    On a road course (yes, NASCAR runs road courses), you screw up a corner, lose an extra 5 mph, and it is not big deal, you are back up to speed by the next corner. On an oval, you screw up a corner, lose an extra 5 mph, and you may lose five or ten track positions and a full five seconds from the the car you were chasing. Yes, F1 is good racing. So is IndyCar.

    Okay, I’ll shut up about this, now. Sorry.

  99. 99
    Area Man

    Contrast to … football in which a single play rarely involves more than two people.

    I really want to avoid the “my sport’s better than your sport” thing going on here, but football plays routinely involve all 11 players, each doing an important job. There is almost never a play in which the linemen do not perform a critical function. In fact, in the NFL draft, many or most of the top round picks will be offensive linemen.

  100. 100
    greenwing

    During the Super Bowl in 2012, there was fast-paced athleticism in an exciting game. That athleticism on full display during the final game of the Women’s FIH Champions Trophy tournament (field hockey), when Argentina defeated Great Britain, 1-0. The two games were held at the same time.

    It says something that baseball, basketball, and volleyball have popularity in countries all around the world, while American football’s popularity is limited to the nation that produced it. This makes perfect sense. Look at the offensive linemen in gridiron. They don’t get to score; they don’t even get to handle the ball. The only things they get to do are hit and get hit. Unlike boxing or taekwondo, where the cream rises to the top, the best offensive lineman in gridiron can end up losing every game.

    In other team sports, everybody gets to handle the ball, or hit the puck, or go up to bat, or gets to do some of the fun stuff that gets recognition, if eve. In American football, if you’re among the half of the players on defense, you almost never get to do the fun stuff, and, if you’re on the offensive line, you can remove the “almost” from that. As noted, the best at a position can end up on a winless team, which isn’t much of a reward for getting hit on every play. I can’t understand why anybody would want to play those positions, so it makes sense that the game hasn’t caught on outside the United States.

    So, how does the USA manage to produce enough people daft enough to play the game?

    It also makes sense that gridiron’s popularity in the States has increased as boxing’s has decreased. You figure that both sports are trying to attract the same type of people as their audience: sadists who don’t want to get hurt themselves. Why would they watch boxing, where two people pound each other and give each other brain damage, when they can watch American football and see 22 people pounding each other and giving each other brain damage instead?

  101. 101
    playonwords

    I would love to see some US football players try either of the Rugby codes or Aussie Rules footy.
    40 minutes continuous play both ways, (20 mins x 4 for footy).
    No separate teams for attack and defense
    No helmets.

  102. 102
    scienceavenger

    Football in two words: combat chess. What’s not to like?

    In my experience, most people find games boring that they don’t understand*, and most people don’t much understand sports they never played, or took the time to study, so when someone claims sport X bores them and they never played it, it means about as much to me as a fashion designer’s opinion of the latest physics – zilch.

    I’m convinced there is a lot of “look at me, I’m cooler and more alternative than you” in these “I hate football” screeds. It’s the conformity of nonconformity, forgetting that hating something because its popular is no better than liking it because its popular. This is also fueled by the undeniable overemphasis of the sport in high school – and I live in Texas, the worst offender – as well as the general society.

    However IMO if you are going to be a good atheist, then you should appreciate the reality of sports competition, as removed from popularity and politics as much as anything can be, the illustration of what the human body is capable of, but in the context that these are after all only games. To those losers who are depressed all week because a team they like lost, get a grip dudes.

    *Two (tongue in cheek) exceptions: soccer, which is a tedious bore (its no coincidence its the most popular game in poor countries, they have no choices. The Cowboys budget is higher than the GDP of half the worlds’ countries) whether you understand it or not, for the simple reason that they never score, which makes everything else a pointless jog in the park, and wrestling, my personal favorite participation sport, which is still a total viewing bore at the highest levels because so little happens. Like racquetball, its more fun when the players suck.

  103. 103
    Rey Fox

    I would love to see some US football players try either of the Rugby codes or Aussie Rules footy.

    They would perform poorly because the sport emphasizes different skill sets.

    This has been another edition of Obvious Answers to Pointless Requests.

  104. 104
    scienceavenger

    @100 “It also makes sense that gridiron’s popularity in the States has increased as boxing’s has decreased”

    I’m not sure your data is correct there, and I’m pretty sure the causality isn’t. Boxing is losing participants to UFC, not football.

    As for your comments about the “fun stuff” in sports, its pretty clear you don’t care for wrestling or serious contact, which is the “fun” part for people who play defense and the line. To defenders, nothings for fun than crushing the opposing player. Sure beats the hell out of standing in right field all afternoon wondering if you are ever going to do anything.

  105. 105
    fentex

    Rugby doesn’t have the concussion issues that football does.

    Yes it does, which is why in recent years stricter rules on concussion tests and removing players from the field where suspicion of concussion exists have been implemented.

    I’m interested in the idea of all the padding in American Foot(pah!)ball being for weaponizing the players rather than for erm “effeminate” protection, which is how most rugby fans view it.

    In the late 1980′s, early 1990′s, Rugby players started wearing increasing amounts of padding, especially increasingly bulky shoulder pads and injuries increased noticeably so they were banned.

    Armouring players causes more injuries because it’s better at making a player a battering ram than it is at defending their body from injury.

    I would love to see some US football players try either of the Rugby codes or Aussie Rules footy.

    Pretty pointless exercise for well honed professionals trained for specific fitness and skills.

    As a matter of interest I have played both – American Football socially with some U.S servicemen providing support for Antartic Operations (my city hosts the U.S support operations) and Rugby because, well, I’m a sporty NZ male – back in my day we all did.

    They are not comparable in many ways at all and while I felt I had the advantage that was more a reflection of, I think, my then superior fitness rather than applicable skills – although there did seem to be some advantage in knowing how to tackle players properly that people more practiced in blocking lacked. At a professional level I doubt that matters.

    Personally I find Rugby is the most entertaining sport to watch for it’s constant action and drama and in the current professional era the razor thin margins between teams makes for strong and uncertain competition that only serves to add tension to competition.

    At the international level we in NZ were treated to superb entertainment last year with excellent games all over the globe.

  106. 106
    Weedless Monkey

    scienceavenger

    Football in two words: combat chess. What’s not to like?

    Ever played Archon? Unholy goodness!

  107. 107
    fentex

    As for people who think football is boring because of few goals, I think they value novelty too highly.

    Though as it happens I agree that it’s boring to watch, I’d much rather be playing. Most sport is boring to watch – being pleasant to look at isn’t the point, the point is the joy of participating to whatever end you seek.

    Sport bent to the needs of an audience is probably not as much fun to play were it not and as I think the purpose of sport is to be played I’ve little interest in any that are perverted for the sake of viewers.

    Which is why Rugby is so much darn fun to watch, it doesn’t have to be perverted to make it both fun to play and entertaining to watch.

  108. 108
    Danny Butts

    I sometimes wonder if the reason that ‘merican are considered so insular is that other countries literally don’t want to play with them.

    As a kid, playing Rugby at school and district level I got to tour most of the home nations and France pretty much every year, staying in the opposition players homes and hosting them at mine. We even had memorable trips to Canada and Romania to play in tournaments.

    As an adult following the national team I’l be in Italy for the 6 nations final weekend this year.

    The football team at my school got to go further afield with a few trips behind the old iron curtain.

    With the football world cup this year and the rugby world cup in the UK next year ,the fans who can afford it will be off enjoying sports related banter with people from every continent , or hosting people from every continent at home and getting to know them.

    I do think its sad that USians don’t get to do this stuff.

  109. 109
    Weedless Monkey

    I sometimes wonder if the reason that ‘merican are considered so insular is that other countries literally don’t want to play with them.

    They actually can’t. Top American leagues are run by businesses and there are no rules for promotion or relegation. It’s just about entertainment and money.

  110. 110
    Al Dente

    Soccer, baseball, cricket, etc. pale when faced with the most boring sport of all to watch: golf. Even golfers are bored by golf.

  111. 111
    devnll

    “It’s the most boring game to watch, ever”

    Well, to be fair, its tied with golf, baseball, cricket, soccer, any form of racing, and Monopoly.

    I’m not the world’s greatest fan of spectator sports (in case this wasn’t immediately obvious) but hockey (ice or field) and Australian-rules football are both pretty good for at least keeping the action going.

  112. 112
    methuseus

    @scienceavenger 102:

    I’m convinced there is a lot of “look at me, I’m cooler and more alternative than you” in these “I hate football” screeds. It’s the conformity of nonconformity, forgetting that hating something because its popular is no better than liking it because its popular.

    There is none of that in me. I actually have enjoyed *playing* football with friends. However we didn’t have the normal blockers, etc., that are on professional and other organized teams. We also played it a little closer to, from what I understand, Aussie rules, though I haven’t ever actually watched it to tell you. I even watch football with friends once in a while, if that’s what they want to do, though I did that more when I was younger.

    *Two (tongue in cheek) exceptions: soccer, which is a tedious bore (its no coincidence its the most popular game in poor countries, they have no choices. The Cowboys budget is higher than the GDP of half the worlds’ countries) whether you understand it or not, for the simple reason that they never score, which makes everything else a pointless jog in the park, and wrestling, my personal favorite participation sport, which is still a total viewing bore at the highest levels because so little happens. Like racquetball, its more fun when the players suck.

    I know you said tongue-in-cheek, but I feel the desire to respond. I guess you could say that the relatively low cost of playing soccer is in its favor worldwide, but I don’t see how Denver’s spending so much on a football team is seen as such a good thing. I do enjoy watching Olympic wrestling, though I don’t usually specifically tune in for it. Watching two soccer teams play that aren’t good is painful. I love watching skilled players compete. I have turned off some of the World Cup preliminaries because either both teams were horrible, or one team was and the massacre wasn’t even fun to watch.

    I also forgot to mention that what I said about football was completely my opinion and I don’t understand how other people can enjoy it when that’s how I see the sport.

  113. 113
    stripeycat

    scienceavenger @102

    In my experience, most people find games boring that they don’t understand*, and most people don’t much understand sports they never played, or took the time to study, so when someone claims sport X bores them and they never played it, it means about as much to me as a fashion designer’s opinion of the latest physics – zilch.

    I loathe this line of argument for two reasons.
    One is the disingenuity of “or took the time to study”: even later in the same sentence, you ignore it in favour of playing experience. My favourite spectator sport is one (because of gender and related assumptions – I was told I’d regret “spoiling my looks”) I never was allowed to play: rugby union. Heck, even soccer was discouraged for girls at my primary school, and not offered at all at secondary. So when I say league is dull compared to union (although still entertaining if I’m bored enough), I’m always going to be vulnerable to the “but you’re not a true player/fan” line because of gender. You also have to account for people like my father, who played well in his day, but struggles to watch a full match of anything without getting bored.
    The other point is that it’s an appeal to snobbery: the only “valid” way to dislike something is to put a lot of effort into understanding it first. It should be perfectly acceptable to say “I tried it and didn’t like it”, without being told you would appreciate it if you only understood it properly. You don’t need a deep understanding of musical theory to dislike a particular piece of music on first hearing; you don’t need a PhD in theology to say a particular argument for theodicy stinks on ice; and you don’t need to study it for a season or more to decide a particular sport leaves you cold.

  114. 114
    Danny Butts

    devnll @111

    If you were watching cricket for excitement, I’m afraid you’ve misunderstood the point of the game ;)

    I’m not sure if cricket is better described as a game rather than a sport.

  115. 115
    jacobbasson

    If you’re an atheist or in any case dislike religion and its influences in society, you ought to be interested in models of secular institutions that bring people together to form and reinforce place-based community. Sports bring people together and form community on a local basis, while also teaching you that at the end of the day you’re not actually supposed to hate the guy who roots for the other team. Building community is one of the main upsides to religion that we as atheists should be seeking to replicate in ways that do not involve lying to ourselves and each other. There aren’t institutions that do this in quite the same ways or as successfully as religion does while also managing to avoid making things up…examples that include some of the key attractive features of religion without the key downsides are worth paying attention to.
    Not everyone likes sports; fine. There’s no need to be so actively dismissive though, I agree with a commenter above that a lot of this in the article and in the comments smacks of ‘look how smart I am that I don’t care about sports’ which is a) unnecessary and kind of eye-roll inducing but also b) may mean you’re failing to appreciate (and actively encouraging a failure to appreciate) the positives that sport has to offer in the context of atheism/religion/secular community building.

  116. 116
    Desert Son, OM

    Weed Monkey at #106:

    Ever played Archon?

    Indeed, on a Commodore 64 some . . . years . . . ago. Now the nostalgia rush is so heavy I’m having trouble seeing the keyboard. Thanks for the good memories.

    Since we’re largely discussing personal preferences, I thought I’d throw mine in:

    Like to play:
    football (soccer), though I play no more due to a knee injury. Looking forward to the World Cup in Brazil this year, and the Women’s World Cup in 2015 in Canada!
    tennis
    fencing, though it has been some . . . years . . . again . . . and I am unlikely to ever return to it.
    downhill skiing, but not competitively.
    running, technically this isn’t playing, it’s what I do for exercise and enjoyment, and I don’t do it competitively. But I’ve finally come around to loving running.

    Like to watch:
    baseball, but mostly at the ballpark, in the company of beloved friends, with beer. I freely admit it may have more to do with the social aspect than it actually does the sport. Also, go White Sox!
    football (soccer)
    tennis
    fencing
    track and field, with emphasis on the running events. I know, this one seems like it ought to be boring. They’re just running! When does something interesting happen?! Maybe it’s soothing somehow, or a reminder of the work I can do for myself on my own pace, stride, form, etc. Maybe it’s one of the truly economically egalitarian sports in the world, practiced in countries regardless of GDP. I don’t know. I like the running.
    snooker and billiards. There’s something about pouring a glass of whisky and sitting down to watch chromatic balls clack brightly across a field of vivid green felt commentated in hushed tones. This perspective is no doubt highly romanticized. I am content to indulge, on occasion, my romanticism.

    Sports I find it profoundly difficult to codify in words the extent to which I do not care about them at all, neither the watching nor the playing:
    handegg (U.S. football)
    golf
    skating, either speed or figure
    motor sports

    Still learning,

    Robert

  117. 117
    llamaherder

    I absolutely love football, and bizarrely, this makes me the odd one out among my peers. People give me puzzled looks when they find out I pay attention to any sports at all.

    The distribution of a broadcast just comes down to pacing. Football is played in bursts, which is a feature, not a bug. Sports with continuous play like soccer, hockey, and (to an extent) basketball are horribly boring specifically because the action is so evenly spread out. Add too-frequent scoring (basketball), and it all feel inconsequential. Add too-infrequent scoring (soccer), and it feels like nothing ever happens.

    It works for me :)

  118. 118
    greenwing

    @science avenger
    “As for your comments about the ‘fun stuff’ in sports, its pretty clear you don’t care for wrestling or serious contact, which is the “fun” part for people who play defense and the line. To defenders, nothings for fun than crushing the opposing player. Sure beats the hell out of standing in right field all afternoon wondering if you are ever going to do anything.”

    Technically, the right fielder gets out of the field every time his or her team gets to bat. However, the right fielder also gets to go up to the plate.

    As for the line players — I also mentioned that they don’t get the recognition, either. Ask the casual fan of American football to name some quarterbacks. Easy, isn’t it? Now ask them to name some linemen. It’s much harder. How often do the offensive linemen get mentioned while a play is going on? From what I can tell, not very often.

    Wrestling is different than American football in this respect. There are only two wrestlers in a match, and both of them will be the focus of attention during that match. Both of them will be active, and the announcers will repeatedly mention their names during the competition. It’s the same with taekwondo and boxing, which I mentioned earlier: you’re going to hit and get hit, but you’re the focus of attention while doing it. Furthermore, whether you win or lose depends on your individual ability and that of your opponent; the top competitors will keep getting the wins. This isn’t the case with American football.

    Wrestling is popular around the world — in the 18 events in the London Olympics, there were medal winners from 29 different countries. Judo — 14 events in London, and 23 countries produces medalists. Taekwondo, with just 8 events, had medalists from 21 different countries. (All of these sports give two bronze medals per event, so that increases the number of countries with medalists.) American football doesn’t have anywhere near that worldwide level of interest.

    You would think that people who were interested in the contact and combat would drift towards individual sports instead of American football. If they were interested in teamwork as well, they would prefer rugby union or rugby league, since the forwards do get to handle the ball at times (so they get named by announcers), and even get to score tries now and then. Rugby has spread around the world, while American football remains pretty much limited to the United States.

    So — how does the United States produce enough people who want to be linemen in American football, and why would they prefer American football to sports where they actually get recognition during a competition?

  119. 119
    llamaherder

    football in which a single play rarely involves more than two people.

    There has never been a single play in the history of American Football which only involved two people.

    There are positions that get more glory than others – quarterbacks particularly – but that’s true in any sport. You can’t tell me strikers don’t get most of the glory in soccer.

    You figure that both sports are trying to attract the same type of people as their audience: sadists who don’t want to get hurt themselves.

    Football and tennis are the only two sports I enjoy watching. If I were to rank every sport in order of enjoyability, football would be at the very top while boxing and MMA would be at the very bottom.

    If I wanted to watch people get hurt, I would watch Tosh.0.

  120. 120
    Rey Fox

    If you’re an atheist or in any case dislike religion and its influences in society, you ought to be interested in models of secular institutions that bring people together to form and reinforce place-based community.

    It’s been said that sports teams are among the last sources of civic pride in America (despite the fact that none of the players or coaches and very few of the behind-the-scenes personnel are actually from the city represented).

  121. 121
    imthegenieicandoanything

    How do you all dog-pile with your noses in the air like that?

    I’m no football fan either, but what a cheap shot!

    Now, if you’d had a follow-up and aimed this wet-cap pistol at scientific research or squid-collecting or something you cared about, it might not appear so full of shit.

    Bad show, at least as presented, but it’s your nickel.

    (By the way, I’m dressed in one of Mother’s frocks while her stuffed body is in the fruit cellar.)

  122. 122
    David Marjanović

    It says something that baseball, basketball, and volleyball have popularity in countries all around the world, while American football’s popularity is limited to the nation that produced it.

    Baseball is actually quite limited: US, Japan, and what? It’s basically unknown over here.

  123. 123
    llamaherder

    So — how does the United States produce enough people who want to be linemen in American football, and why would they prefer American football to sports where they actually get recognition during a competition?

    1. Their talents are well-suited toward being a lineman rather than a quarterback
    2. Football is a more popular sport in the US than the others you’ve listed.
    3. Football is more lucrative than the others you’ve listed.
    4. They enjoy being linemen.
    5. They don’t care about recognition
    6. They still do get recognition, even if it’s not as much as a quarterback gets.

    You’re assuming everyone chooses their sports based on the same criteria.

    I can name lots of offensive linemen. I cannot name a single (real) wrestler, rugby player, taekwondo or judo practitioner, or boxer. I don’t like those sports. Why would I pursue a career in a sport other than the ones I like?

  124. 124
    Rey Fox

    Baseball is actually quite limited: US, Japan, and what?

    The Caribbean.

  125. 125
    David Marjanović

    Rugby has spread around the world

    Commonwealth countries, France, and what else? In most of Europe it’s really rare.

  126. 126
    davidgentile

    Lacrosse.

  127. 127
    Le Chifforobe

    I’m not a fan of football, but I can watch a game. If I have to. I guess.

    But basketball is completely unwatchable, or at least until they require sneakers that don’t make that awful SQUEAK! SQUEAK! SQUEAK!!

    Yes, I could just turn off the sound on the TV, but my attention is then quickly drawn to something more interesting, such as grass growing or paint drying.

  128. 128
    Rob Grigjanis

    Commonwealth countries, France, and what else?

    Number of registered players in countries participating in the 2011 Rugby (Union) World Cup. I’m not sure if the numbers are just for Rugby Union. And Argentina is missing!

  129. 129
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    I’m not a football fan here either. People still expect that since I’m a guy and a bartender that I care about sports, which is *still* annoying. The only time I look at the tv during the Super Bowl is for the amusing ads and the movie trailers.

  130. 130
    Area Man

    It says something that baseball, basketball, and volleyball have popularity in countries all around the world, while American football’s popularity is limited to the nation that produced it.

    So, what does it say that the popularity of cricket is limited to Commonwealth nations? Or that rugby is popular in a handful of English speaking countries and parts of France? Or that Australian football isn’t played much outside of Australia, and Canadian football isn’t played at all outside of Canada? For that matter, baseball is definitely not popular world-wide, being limited to North America, parts of Latin America, and a couple of East Asian countries that American forces once occupied.

  131. 131
    Weedless Monkey

    David Marjanović

    Commonwealth countries, France, and what else? In most of Europe it’s really rare.

    There’s a rugby league in Finland, but so far the are pretty awful. I only know of it because a friend plays.

  132. 132
    Danny Butts

    David Marjanović @125

    “Rugby has spread around the world”

    “Commonwealth countries, France, and what else? In most of Europe it’s really rare.”

    In Europe Rugby is quite popular in Italy, Romania and Belgium (i toured all 3 when I played) and it seems to be catching on in the old eastern bloc countries. Georgia is one off the top of my head that seem to do well internationally.

    In the rest of the world Argentina, most of the western Pacific nations and Japan have strong rugby unions.

    Oh, and dont dismiss “commonwealth countries”, your talking about a quarter of the world population and a huge chunk of its land surface.

  133. 133
    Desert Son, OM

    All the discussion about rugby reminded me of the advertisements in Brazil a few years ago to boost support for sports lesser known than the mighty fútbol.

    Brazillian Rugby.

    Still learning,

    Robert

  134. 134
    Area Man

    As for the line players — I also mentioned that they don’t get the recognition, either. Ask the casual fan of American football to name some quarterbacks. Easy, isn’t it? Now ask them to name some linemen. It’s much harder.

    This is a problem with casual football fans, not with the linemen. People who are knowledgeable about football pay close attention to the line, because that’s the most important part of the game.

    How often do the offensive linemen get mentioned while a play is going on? From what I can tell, not very often.

    While a play is going on, not very often, because the action is too fast for that. After the play, any commentator worth his paycheck will point out critical blocks and openings that the linemen made, or if they missed an assignment, why they let the defense through.

    So — how does the United States produce enough people who want to be linemen in American football, and why would they prefer American football to sports where they actually get recognition during a competition?

    Because they get tons of recognition from their peers and from fans who actually understand the sport, and they get paid extremely well. Offensive linemen are the first to get snatched up during the draft. Actual football teams value them.

  135. 135
    Area Man

    In Europe Rugby is quite popular in Italy, Romania and Belgium (i toured all 3 when I played) and it seems to be catching on in the old eastern bloc countries.

    Well, Europe has its own American football league (not to be confused with the now-defunct NFL Europe), so if the presence of people playing it is enough to declare it popular, American football is popular all over the world. On the other hand, in terms of marketable fan support, both American football and rugby are fairly limited geographically.

    Which is really neither here nor there in terms of the inherent worthiness of either sport.

  136. 136
    fentex

    inherent worthiness of either sport

    There’s little inherently worthy to any sport, they’re all inventions to an end.

    I’m not sure if cricket is better described as a game rather than a sport.

    I recently saw an article that was discussing what qualified a pass time as a sport, and if a criteria could be settled on would Golf qualify?

    It concluded that a worthy criteria was any competitive exercise that a participant improves at with improved aerobic ability – basically meaning if exercise to improve your general physical fitness improves your play – aside from skill training – it’s a sport.

    And research demonstrates this is true of golf. I play golf and I know fitness plays an important part given it includes 7 ~ 8km walk. Which raises the question of whether or not using carts is part of the game – at the professional level they are disallowed (except for dispensations due to handicap or injury).

  137. 137
    Danny Butts

    Area Man,

    I wasn’t knocking American football. I’m one of those people who’s generally happy to watch most sports. I quite enjoy baseball for example, I’m still a learner but I recognize its similarities to cricket. However, American football was pretty badly covered on the occasions Ive tried to watch it over here.

    The last NFL game was televised in the UK but as we don’t have the number of ad breaks the broadcasters would usually expect, the screen was just people milling around waiting for the game to restart for 2 minutes every 10 minutes or so (i think it might have been on the bbc, so no ads at all). We also took the commentary feed from the American broadcast, which was understandably pitched at a level of intricate knowledge of the game that most Europeans don’t have. I have to admit, I stuck it out until half time but I was too confused (mostly about why all those people kept throwing their underwear on the pitch) to continue.

    Believe it or not, that was actually better coverage than the Superbowl which went completely silent while the American broadcasters were on an ad break.

    Maybe for these reasons the NFL Europe league is now defunct.

  138. 138
    Danny Butts

    Fentex,

    That’s an interesting definition of a sport. However, I would guess that many chess players would say that staying fit in body helps improve the mind, or snooker and dart players who would say it improves concentration.

    It also means that cricket was a game until the mid nineties and then became a sport when fitness became an important part of the skills training.

    you never see a fat cricketer these days

  139. 139
    Zeno

    As opposed to being the guy in the room who snidely says, “Oh, I find [sport under discussion] dull and boring,” I’m the guy who says nothing and eventually sidles out if sports are all anyone wants to talk about. I see no point in proclaiming my lack of interest. I know lots of people love sports and devote lots of time to it. So be it. The one thing that tends to bug me the most, however, is over-identification with a beloved team. Noisy crowing like, “Wow, we really pounded them last night!” We? Who is this “we,” kemo-sabe?

  140. 140
    llamaherder

    I’m the kind of person who says, “we.” Unironically.

    Sports fandom is a form of tribalism, considering myself part of that tribe is part of the fun even while my fandom has literally zero impact on the outcome of the game.

    It’s irrational, and I don’t really care.

  141. 141
    DrVanNostrand

    @greenwing #118

    I know the names of all the starting linemen for the Green Bay Packers, and they are integrally involved in every play. And let me tell you, when one of them goes out, and I see Marshall Newhouse come in, I know the team is in for some rough times. That’s how important linemen are. Also, good linemen make a shitload of money, so there is no difficulty filling the ranks. They do get mentioned frequently during the broadcast, though it’s usually during replays since there is so much going on during each play, and the plays unfold so quickly that it can be difficult to see everything that happens everywhere on the field. Hence, the replays and commentary.

  142. 142
    Danny Butts

    Well its bed time in the UK, so thanks guys its been fun.

    Bringing things back to PZ’s point.

    I can see how a science prof in the American education system struggling for funding can see the millions spent on high school and college sports as a wasteful distraction and feel a little embittered. Huge stadiums, marching bands, cheerleaders etc etc (im a little ignorant of where the money is actually spent)

    However, in the UK when I was playing high school rugby, if your parents couldn’t afford to buy your kit (as mine couldn’t), you were pointed to a large cardboard box of cast offs from previous years and told to find what fitted best. If we needed to travel to away games sympathetic parents were roped in to drive us and on the odd occasion we needed to stay away from home, we would stay with the opposing teams parents. It was run on a shoe string because it needed to be, but for a kid with a shitty home life, it was a lifeline.

  143. 143
    anuran

    If it doesn’t make sense to you, you won’t enjoy it. If it does you might like it.
    1) The commercials are no worse than on any other TV show. If you watch TV otherwise you’re simply used to them. A couple minutes every seven minutes adds up.

    2) Games are delayed in order to make room for commercials.

    3) Live games are different, especially if they’re not being televised (See above)

    4) A lot changed when they added more than one “team”. When offense and defense were played by the same guys it was a lot faster.

    5) If you want a real game with constant physical action and unholy conditioning watch rugby, hurling or Australian Rules football. They have the added advantage of not turning their players into twitching vegetables.

    6) Real football – not American Hand Egg – is the most popular sport in the world. I understand it but simply don’t like it.

  144. 144
    anuran

    7) I used to be impressed with the speed and agility of football players. Then I started taking The Hound to the off-leash dog park. The best human is a clumsy amateur by comparison, at least until the distances get to be over ten miles.

  145. 145
    ChasCPeterson

    I hate these stupid opinion threads. So much smug superiority, so much ignorance.
    So I will tell everybody about meeeee:
    144 comments and not one person has mentioned either of my two favorite sports. I refer, of course, to water polo and ultimate frisbee, and no, I’m not kidding.
    That said, there are very few things I’d rather do than while away a summer afternoon watching a well-played game of baseball. With a really good announcer (miss you, Vin Scully), I’ll happily just sit in a chair and listen to one on the radio, staring off into space and sipping cold beer.
    I also enjoy, in real time, watching football and hockey. There is much to see and pay attention to in all three of these sports to which the uninitiated are completely oblivious.
    And it is with a rewarding feeling of smug superiority that I point out the obvious: my opinion is better than yours.

  146. 146
    chigau (違う)

    Darts and Sumo.
    Not at the same time.

  147. 147
    ChasCPeterson

    Not that every sports fan enjoys football out of tribalism, but I have noticed the ones that do tend to be on the Republican-shithead side of the spectrum.

    bullshit you’ve “noticed” this. Confirmation bias.
    Falsified every Sunday in places like Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Detroit, and Green Bay.

  148. 148
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    If there’s one thing I will not stand for it’s watersports.

  149. 149
    ledasmom

    I find that my interest in sports has waned considerably in the past two decades. I used to be able to enjoy watching golf or the Indy 500. They were soothing.
    I rather enjoy watching show jumping, mainly because it reminds me of a speech by LeGuin in which she says that, given her druthers, she would rather do sex and watch show jumping (though not, if I remember correctly, at the same time).

  150. 150
    Desert Son, OM

    Rev at #148:

    If there’s one thing I will not stand for it’s watersports.

    Easier to lie down?

    (I’ll get my coat)

    Still learning,

    Robert

  151. 151
    Desert Son, OM

    chigau at #146:

    Darts and Sumo.
    Not at the same time.

    I don’t know. Could bring a whole new level to both sports. Might be a real brainstorm there.

    Still learning,

    Robert

  152. 152
    chigau (違う)

    If you lie down for water sports, you may drown.

  153. 153
    carlie

    With a really good announcer (miss you, Vin Scully), I’ll happily just sit in a chair and listen to one on the radio, staring off into space and sipping cold beer.

    My aunt didn’t like baseball at all, but she could listen to Harry Caray announce for hours. A good announcer is really the thing.

  154. 154
    What a Maroon, oblivious

    That said, there are very few things I’d rather do than while away a summer afternoon watching a well-played game of baseball. With a really good announcer (miss you, Vin Scully), I’ll happily just sit in a chair and listen to one on the radio, staring off into space and sipping cold beer.

    If you can’t be at the game, baseball is best on the radio.

    Though really, if it’s not Ned Martin announcing, it’s just not the same.

    As for American football, that may be the one sport that’s best seen on TV.

  155. 155
    barnestormer

    Everything about the destructiveness of college sports is true. I can’t really justify my enjoyment of college football.

    At the same time, the athletes are astonishingly talented and even the plays that don’t work out can be a joy to watch.

    Also, as a leftist atheist in Alabama with a special interest in reproductive justice, liking football and other sports is extremely socially valuable to me: it’s something I can talk about freely and happily with nearly everyone I meet. It’s good to have something to get passionate about where the stakes aren’t about the AL state legislature’s ceaseless dedication to destroying people’s lives.

    But of course, football is destroying lives. At least the way it’s currently run.

    I like football. I wish it were safer and less exploitative. It’s complicated, but I don’t think the fact that it’s complicated makes it any better.

  156. 156
    left0ver1under

    Danny Butts (#132) –

    In Europe Rugby is quite popular in Italy, Romania and it seems to be catching on in the old eastern bloc countries.

    It’s not so much catching on in Romania as returning to its prior prominence. From the 1950s until the collapse of communism and lack of funding, Romania was one of the more powerful European countries, competitive with Five (now Six) Nations teams.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romania_national_rugby_union_team

  157. 157
    greenwing

    @122 David Marjanovic

  158. 158
    stripeycat

    ledasmom – you have a point about show-jumping, although I personally prefer dressage (um – I prefer the current trends in dressage – I was furious at the perversion of all things good and equine that went on in the early years of this centuary). Plus, there’s less of a worry about serious injury (I did once scream so loud when I saw a rider thrown against a jump upright that my Mum came running to see if I was hurt).
    The next best equivalents to dressage (no horses, but still amazing to watch) would be gymnastics and figure skating.

  159. 159
    greenwing

    @122 David Marjanovic – “Baseball is actually quite limited: US, Japan, and what?”

    There’s also an MLB franchise in Canada.

    In last year’s World Baseball Classic, the finalists were the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico; the semifinalists were Japan and the Netherlands. Yes, a team from Europe made it farther than the United States. Italy also made it into the final eight. Cuba and Mexico are usually good, Venezuela provides baseball with a South American presence, and South Korea and Taiwan are top Asian powers. The 2013 Asian Series for club teams was won by the Australian representative, ahead of teams from South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, and Italy (a berth was granted to Europe’s club champion.) There are even two Brazilians in Major League Baseball.

    From a global standpoint, its spread is comparable to that of team handball, although the specific countries where the sports are most popular are different.

  160. 160
    sprocket

    I’ve always found sports deadly dull, though I can stomach hockey when my nephews are playing. That’s about it. NFL should take George Carlin’s advice. At least the shots of the players would be more interesting.

    I wonder how Aussie and Canadian football compare in game play. I’ll give the Aussies some credit as they don’t need all the armor.

  161. 161
    greenwing

    @130 Area man — “So, what does it say that the popularity of cricket is limited to Commonwealth nations? Or that rugby is popular in a handful of English speaking countries and parts of France? Or that Australian football isn’t played much outside of Australia, and Canadian football isn’t played at all outside of Canada? For that matter, baseball is definitely not popular world-wide, being limited to North America, parts of Latin America, and a couple of East Asian countries that American forces once occupied.”

    Cricket – Believe it or not, cricket has become the most popular sport in Afghanistan. Rugby – Italy is represented in the Six Nations, and Argentina is in The Rugby Championship, a four-country tournament that is the Southern Hemisphere’s version of the Six Nations. Cricket, rugby, and baseball have managed to spread beyond the countries were they originated, and the countries they have spread to are scattered around the world. For the record, professional baseball in Japan started in the 1930s, before American forces ever occupied the country. The Netherlands was never under military occupation — but it had its first professional baseball league in 1922.

    The situation for sports like Australian football, hurling, and pesäpallo is different. Australia, Ireland and Finland were never great military powers, and they never had a large cultural influence in the world. It would be a simplification to say that British merchants and engineers introduced soccer to South America, but British investments on that continent provided soccer with the opportunity to spread, and several teams (Corinthians in Brazil, Liverpool in Uruguay, and Everton in Chile) were named after English clubs. The spread of baseball in the Western Hemisphere tended to follow the American military, while its spread in East Asia followed the presence of Japanese troops.

    Where did Australia, Ireland, and Finland have a huge presence where their sports could be copied? The only country where rugby league, as opposed to rugby union, is the most popular sport is Papua New Guinea — but rugby league is the leading football code in Queensland and New South Wales. Papua New Guinea is also the only country outside Australia where Australian football is popular. What was Australia’s only sizable colony? Papua New Guinea, which was also where Australian economic influence was at its greatest. For Gaelic sports, teams from New York and London are represented in Irish competitions, but those teams are generally made up of Irish expatriates; nowhere has Ireland been the major outside economic or cultural influence.

    There wasn’t much of a chance for Australian football, Canadian football, or hurling to spread outside their homelands. On the other hand, American football had the same chance of spreading outside its homeland as rugby, soccer, cricket, baseball, and basketball did. Those sports all managed to spread outside of their original homelands to the point that other countries have produced top-level teams in those sports. American football never managed to do that, and it’s the one major sport from outside the United States or Great Britain that failed to do so. That has to say something about the sport.

  162. 162
    chigau (違う)

    sprocket
    Canadian and American football are virtually identical.
    No resemblance to Australian football.

  163. 163
    michaelvester

    It’s all Brownian motion.

  164. 164
    Trebuchet

    May I put in a word for pumpkin tossing? Sure, it’s 15 minutes of effort to cock for 5-10 seconds of hang time, but think of the splat. And when it’s on TV (once a year), you get Kari Byron!

  165. 165
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    and Monopoly.

    Bona fide blood sports are another matter. >.>

  166. 166
    Ichthyic

    I hate the commentators who have to tell us about the play we just watched and how important it is to the universe

    yup.

    It was John Madden that ruined watching football on TV for me.

    I really haven’t paid much attention to it about 2 years after he became a regular broadcaster.

    I agree with others that there is a great element of strategy involved in each play in football; anyone who has played for an academic team can tell you that.

    but… the 2 hours of replays, waiting for the next play, endless inane commentary, and ever growing commercial segments finally killed it entirely for me.

    I have no regrets.

  167. 167
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    If there’s one thing I will not stand for it’s watersports.

    Kneeling is probably more effective.

  168. 168
    Ichthyic

    “Baseball is actually quite limited: US, Japan, and what?”

    Canada, Mexico, peurto rico (arguably US), Cuba, South/central America (Venezuela, Columbia, Costa Rica, Nicaragua), Taiwan, Netherlands, South Korea, Italy, and I think even the UK still fields a World Cup team, but not sure.

  169. 169
    Rip Steakface

    I’m convinced there is a lot of “look at me, I’m cooler and more alternative than you” in these “I hate football” screeds. It’s the conformity of nonconformity, forgetting that hating something because its popular is no better than liking it because its popular. This is also fueled by the undeniable overemphasis of the sport in high school – and I live in Texas, the worst offender – as well as the general society.

    I’m with this. Ironically, among the people I know, it’s rather uncool to like football because it’s sports and sports are brainless (false) activities for fools (false) who can’t do anything worth a damn (sometimes true unfortunately).

    Being all snobby about not liking football and declaring how much you’re just going to not watch the Super Bowl is like declaring how much you’re going to not listen to the next album by some musician other people like and you don’t. Yes, good for you, you’re a real fantastic judge of taste. Now let us have our stupid fun with exceedingly large men roughing each other up while wearing brightly colored satin pants (not that there’s anything wrong with being a large man, roughing other men up, or wearing brightly colored satin pants. Okay, maybe the satin pants.).

    That said, the injury rate in football really does need to come down. People are getting hurt, badly, by playing the sport, and I fear that in the near future someone will die on the field. Some reform regarding equipment and what’s allowable regarding contact is sorely needed, else there will only be more pain and suffering on the field.

    Hell, out of pure selfishness, the NFL should impose more restrictions just so that they don’t suffer an image problem (i.e., it’s a sport so violent and destructive that the people who play it have a chance of dying on the field – people do NOT want to see that, regardless of what you may think).

  170. 170
    Ichthyic

    roughing other men up

    nothing wrong with that eh?

    tell it to these guys:

    http://nflconcussionlitigation.com/

    judge rejected the 765 million dollar settlement… because the judge thinks less than 25% of players affected by serious concussions have actually participated in the suit, and thus the figure should be MUCH larger.

    tell them that roughing each other up was just fine and dandy, and ask yourself if their pain is worth your pleasure.

  171. 171
    Ichthyic

    frankly, full contact sports really should become part of our history instead of part of our future, and you do a great disservice thinking people who now want to see football end do so because it’s fucking “trendy”.

  172. 172
    Area Man

    Cricket – Believe it or not, cricket has become the most popular sport in Afghanistan. Rugby – Italy is represented in the Six Nations, and Argentina is in The Rugby Championship, a four-country tournament that is the Southern Hemisphere’s version of the Six Nations.

    It’s like you’re trying to miss the point. One nation in which cricket has become popular (more popular in Afghanistan than soccer? I doubt that.) does not make it a world-wide sport. Vast swaths of humanity do not play or watch cricket at all, or if they do, it’s merely a niche sport. Same with rugby. Both sports have been heavily constrained by historical factors.

    Cricket, rugby, and baseball have managed to spread beyond the countries were they originated…

    So has American football. There are professional and semi-professional leagues in Europe, Asia, and everywhere. The Pacific Islands are now a major breeding ground for NFL talent, and believe it or not, so are Germany and even Australia.

    Now, you might say that it’s a niche sport in most places where it’s played, and it’s not a major spectator draw. But the exact same thing is true of baseball, rugby, and cricket in those places where they’re not historically dominant (i.e., most of the world).

    American football never managed to do that, and it’s the one major sport from outside the United States or Great Britain that failed to do so. That has to say something about the sport.

    This is just bullshit. Even if your premise weren’t demonstrably false, it wouldn’t necessarily say anything about the sport at all.

  173. 173
    Desert Son, OM

    Icthyic at #166:

    It was John Madden that ruined watching football on TV for me.

    Years ago my father and I were watching ESPN coverage of the NCAA basketball tournament and a commentator introduced an upcoming game with the following:

    Villanova has the ability — on any given night — to either win or lose.”

    I didn’t know the term *facepalm* at the time. Wish I had.

    Still learning,

    Robert

  174. 174
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    @Rev BDC 148, Desert Son 150, & Azkyroth 167:

    Standing can be very effective, I would have to believe, considering the position you’re playing. Perhaps our beloved Chimp just doesn’t want to be the shooter?

    As for kneeling vs. lying down, I suppose that would depend on the goal.
    ===========

    I learned the single entendre from AC/DC.

  175. 175
    greenwing

    @Area Man 172 – “It’s like you’re trying to miss the point. One nation in which cricket has become popular (more popular in Afghanistan than soccer? I doubt that.) does not make it a world-wide sport.”

    The bit about cricket in Afghanistan was in response to your claim that cricket’s popularity was limited to Commonwealth nations. Afghanistan was never part of the British Empire or the Commonwealth.

    One factor which constrained cricket’s popularity arose from the creation of the Imperial Cricket Conference in 1909, which restricted membership to lands within the British Empire (or, after 1949, Commonwealth members). This really hurt cricket in the United States — in 1891, for example, a match in Philadelphia between the city’s top players and an English side led by Lord Hawke drew 20,000 spectators.

    More to the point, there are countries on six different continents where cricket is popular. North America is represented by Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago, and several other commonwealth members. South America — cricket is Guyana’s most popular sport. Europe has England; Africa, two test nations in South Africa and Zimbabwe. Oceania has Australia and New Zealand, and Asia — well, India has over one billion people, and cricket has been described as the national religion there. The top two test nations are currently South Africa and India — ahead of cricket’s birthplace, England.

    Likewise, there are countries around the world where rugby is popular. I didn’t claim that it was popular everywhere in the world, but the countries where it is popular are scattered around the world. As noted, you have the Six Nations in the Northern Hemisphere, including non-Commonwealth France and Italy. The equivalent competition in the Southern Hemisphere includes South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and Argentina, the latter being non-Commonwealth. Rugby has also achieved some popularity in Japan, which is scheduled to host the Rugby World Cup in 2019. Last year, a match between Waseda and Meiji University drew over 40,000 spectators.

    The countries where cricket is popular are scattered around the world, which is what I claimed. Likewise, the places where rugby is popular, and the places where baseball is popular, are both scattered around the world. I initially wrote, “It says something that baseball, basketball, and volleyball have popularity in countries all around the world, while American football’s popularity is limited to the nation that produced it.” I never made the claim that the sports were popular all around the world; I merely implied that the places where they were popular were on many different continents. For rugby, cricket, and baseball, those countries are on at least five different continents, and only six are inhabited.

    “Cricket, rugby, and baseball have managed to spread beyond the countries were they originated…”

    and you cut off the end of the sentence so you could include American football.

    I pointed out that the sports have all spread to the point that other countries have produced top-level teams in those sports. Cricket? South Africa and India are ranked higher than England, and Australia just swept England in the Ashes. Rugby? New Zealand is the big power in rugby union, and France has won the Six Nations on several occasions, ahead of the home countries. Baseball? The World Baseball Classic has been won by Japan and the Dominican Republic, and, in the last WBC, the Netherlands finished ahead of the USA. Basketball? The men’s Olympic gold medal was won by Argentina in 2004.

    The IFAF runs a world championship in American football; the United States sent teams twice, and won both times they entered, including a 50-7 win over Canada in 2011. If you can tell me who Ben McLaughlin, Nate Kmic, Johnny Dingle, and Daniel Tromello are, congratulations. They were on the world championship squad, and nowhere near NFL caliber. The best teams other countries can field were nowhere near that team, and would probably lose by triple digits to an NFL all-star team.

    American football is the only sport among all of those that failed to spread beyond its birthplace to the extent that other countries can be competitive with its homeland. You claim this is false, but had to take a sentence out of context, and then omit half of it, in order to make that claim. You have utterly failed to provide any evidence why that claim is false, mainly because no such evidence exists.

    “The Pacific Islands are now a major breeding ground for NFL talent, and believe it or not, so are Germany and even Australia.”

    The Pacific Islands? American Samoa is a breeding ground for NFL talent, but the “American” in its name indicates that it’s part of the United States. There are three Germans in the NFL, but two of them were introduced to the game while in the United States. Three Australians played in regular-season NFL games last year, all punters. To put this into perspective, there are currently four Americans who play for the twelve teams in the Aviva Premiership, which is England’s top rugby competition. If Germany and Australia are major breeding grounds for NFL talent, then the United States must be a major breeding ground for rugby talent.

    “Now, you might say that it’s [American football] a niche sport in most places where it’s played, and it’s not a major spectator draw. But the exact same thing is true of baseball, rugby, and cricket in those places where they’re not historically dominant (i.e., most of the world).”

    There’s only one country where American football is not a niche sport. For baseball, rugby, and cricket, each sport has countries on at least five different continents where it is not a niche sport. Team handball has countries on four different continents where it’s not a niche sport. The worldwide spreads of baseball, rugby, and cricket are all comparable to that of team handball. The worldwide spread of American football is not.

  176. 176
    fentex

    Vast swaths of humanity do not play or watch cricket at all, or if they do, it’s merely a niche sport.

    Putting aside the hundreds of millions outside of India that are citizens of countries where cricket is popular the more than one billion population of India where cricket is tremendously popular make the idea of cricket being in anyway a niche sport a bit preposterous.

  177. 177
    chigau (違う)

    This is so sad.

  178. 178
    cotton

    Maybe I’m being too sensitive, but posts about how everybody with guns is a gun asshole and American football is stupid just makes me think Pharyngula is just trying to imitate the old O’Reilly stereotype of liberals.

    This chart is dumb. Imagine if I had a similar chart of my monthly poker game. OMG so much time is being used to talk, eat, drink, and laugh that very little ACTUAL poker gets played! Yes…that’s the point. Football is a great sport to watch with other people b/c its just enough action not to spoil an evening. Soccer, on the other hand, demands full attention. It’s a great sport, but not great if it isn’t the focus of the evening.

  179. 179
    AsqJames

    It would be a simplification to say that British merchants and engineers introduced soccer to South America, but British investments on that continent provided soccer with the opportunity to spread, and several teams (Corinthians in Brazil, Liverpool in Uruguay, and Everton in Chile) were named after English clubs.

    Point of order! The football team in Uruguay was named for the city of Liverpool, not the club. However, there is an Arsenal in either Uruguay or Argentina I think. There are definitely Evertons in Rosario, Uruguay and La Plata, Argentina though. I know they are named after their English counterpart as I’ve visited them both (and the one in Chile twice).

    I’m very tribal, but my tribe’s diaspora are widespread ;).

  180. 180
    Oswaldwasaleftist

    This comes with the territory with U.S. based pro sports, which are funded by play stoppage for the purpose of propagandizing the audience with corporate advertisements. Want to see continuous play without interruption? Then watch soccer. Hockey is about the only popular team sport here that comes closest to having continuous play without interruption.

    The reason why soccer will always have difficulty succeeding in the U.S. financially is because it is formatted for non-commercial public broadcasting. Can’t stop the game for ads.

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