Thursday, August 31, 2006

I've always had a little more America in me than most of my friends, or even many Americans. I once challenged a couple from Maine as to whether the capital of their state really was Augusta, because I was almost certain that it was Bangor, though that might be because I've awlays had a little more combatant in me than most of my friends. More seriously, I watch baseball, football and King of the Hill to the exclusion of hockey and basketball. I would love to be able to watch hockey, but I can rarely bring myself to care. I know more about the Buffalo Bills or even some far-off football team than the Toronto Maple Leafs. More significantly, I feel a certain kinship with the land of the zone defense, the split-fingered fastball and the Taco Bell and will often defend it against all comers in political debate. I'm not sure what the cause is, whether it is too much time on the Internet, too much time spent watching FOX or maybe a fixation on America as the hub of the world, at least my corner of it.

My ultimate fixation, however, is with football. I've been watching football since I was 9. The stereotypes might say otherwise but football is a great way for a nerd to spend a Sunday afternoon: three hours of technical overanalysis and statistical overload. The game itself is uniquely American, moreso than baseball or anything else. It is only a legitimate sport in North America, it is complex, technological, overhyped, overblown and overexposed. It embodies the good and bad of America like soccer represents the good and bad of Europe, or hockey represents the good and bad of Canada.

I'm not sure just what it is about the defence lining up in a 3-4 zone with an eighth man in the box that excites me. The jargon, the commentary and the mentality is very aggressive and very appropriate to young males of 21st century America. The games are always exciting, full of twists and absolutely nerve-wracking. The sequential nature of plays turns off many who like a fluid sport (but won't watch 10,000 metre races on the track) but the combination of the order and the controlled chaos within each part of the sequence is beautiful. The game is seen as boorish and violent, but it is so much more, if only you could sit down and learn the intricacies of the game.

In a couple of months, it will be fall, the time of fast races, fun at school and cold weather football. The season will be in full swing as immovable defenses collide with irresistible offenses on a 100-yard chess board with breathless, hyperbolic commentators there to remind us if we forget. The redundant comments don't take away from a sport that features some of the most talented athletes in a complex, entertaining drama every Sunday for five months.

No comments: