I certainly can’t remember a day in my life when I actually liked football. I’ve never cared for the game.
Now, I haven’t always had an aversion to sports. Baseball was the sport of my youth. I played in Little League and dived into the sport with all the statistics-minded abandon of a modern-day fantasy-footballer during my teen years. Even as a youngster, I recall many nights lying in bed after the lights were out while I listened intently to Vin Scully announce the Dodger home game while the buzz of the crowd framed the tinny sound emitting from my clock radio. Much of my youth was intertwined with the fate of the Dodgers, with their glories and defeats. The concept of competition and athleticism did not offend or bore me. Later, in my 20s I also became a hockey fan and pledged my allegiance to the L.A. Kings. Who couldn’t love the Miracle on Ice? That was what sports should be…in my mind.
But football absolutely bored the hell out of me. As a boy, I succumbed to the popular illusion to football as the penultimate focal point of all the fake male bravado that Americans eat up like armchair pansies. I tried my best to learn about football, to learn the rules and follow the weekly games, but I simply did not have it in me to do this.
Football was not for me.
Much of my family liked football, of the professional and college variety, and during the autumn holidays it was inevitable that a group of male relatives would gather loudly around the television in complete disregard of the parallel family events at hand, but I would venture as far away from the televised gridiron mayhem as possible. It’s not that I enjoyed the family events. I simply hated the football spectacle even more that listening to all my female relatives prattle on incessantly about stupid bullshit. In fact, I frequently found myself outside where I could stare at the sky or the trees, neither of which preoccupied themselves with boy’s games or girl’s stories.
I went anywhere I could find that didn’t involve men in helmets and tight shiny pants, running around in spurts of 4-second action. Boring. At such a young age, my sense of self was not cemented and I believed something must be wrong with me for not liking football. Football was what men liked. Men acted simple and masculine when football was present. Manhood seemed to regress before my eyes when the stupid game was at hand. They were loud and moronic sheep as the game clock counted down the inexorable fits of “action.” I never summoned the ability to sink to that level.
Hey man, I tried my best to like football. I tried desperately to integrate into in my manly arsenal. If I could just bring myself to like football, I would be like all the men I knew, lumbering simpletons mesmerized by the oval pig-skinned chicanery. But no matter how I tried, it never came to me. The spell of football missed me every time.
There came a point in my life where I was able to surmount the pinnacle of self-empowered maturity and see with clarity the idiocy of our American cultural lie which could ever entertain the foolish notion that football defined masculinity in this post-industrial technologically-enabled pussyfest called America at the turn of the Century. I saw football for what it is, and more importantly, accepted that its hollow image was not worth my time, and indicative in a grander sense, of a sociological malaise that I was thankful not to be a part of.
Football has become the vehicle of empty-headed American arcana which found bold ascendance in the latter 20th Century just as the last remnants of true American masculinity was struggling over its last gasps of air.
Football today is a vehicle of blind consumerism and a displaced sense of masculinity that has now been rendered homeless by the rapid equalization of the genders. Football is less about the game than it has ever been. Football is America. It is a symbol of excess, gluttony, shallowness, instant gratification and impatience. It is a boring sport boasting of a lot of hot-aired faux strategies and steered by well-placed periods of inactivity rather than actual movement. Football oozes commercialism and half-time glitter. All spontaneity and originality is cloaked within accepted and rehearsed time frames of carefully measured doses of expensive trashy offerings. Football is us!
I heard someone argue that football should be the American pastime. Not sure about that, but football is more American than America.