Football is the unquestioned king of all sports by any measure. Monday Night match ups with snoozer teams routinely outdraw playoff games in other sports. It would seem football can do no wrong. But why?
The three reasons say as much about society as they do about sport
The reality of the rigors of playing such a brutal game are that they can’t have more than one game a week, or stretch a season past 20 games (even with playoffs). In a world where other sports require 162 game seasons just to set up the postseason, this is a differentiator. Not only must we savor every game, but every game matters.
This less-is-more model fuels our passion, excites our off-season and truly makes us earn it. In the digital age, few things in life are on these terms.
Our Weenie Culture has yet to Corrupt it
Football represents one of the last places on earth where physical contact in the realm of sport is not only allowed but revered. This is in stark contrast to today’s reality, where my kids aren’t even allowed to play dodge ball in school and Bully Prevention Week is an actual thing. Our children are encouraged to be victims and go fetal at the first sign of trouble. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, and in football our victim culture just found one.
Next Man Up
This past week Texans QB Ryan Mallet was released by the Texans. His crimes? A pouting spell on the sideline, a missed flight and a general bad attitude. Can you imagine if Ryan Mallet had a white collar desk job? Similar behavior might force an HR meeting and in about 18 months with proper documentation he might be fired.
In the NFL you produce or you leave. Your value is the total and complete sum of one thing– your ability to produce in your next game. Tim Tebow and Michael Sam didn’t lose their jobs because of politics– they simply couldn’t cut it. Talent trumps all on the gridiron. Players must climb a depth chart, differentiate themselves, behave in the locker room or turn in their playbook and head home. The sport is a true meritocracy– something previous generations took for granted as a hallmark of a successful society.
These three factors and others like them make the NFL and football in general, great. One wonders if the same core principles were applied to the world outside of sport if we’d see similar upticks.
Sadly we’ll never find out.