The Fascination of Football

There is no other sport like the National Football League. You wait all week for it to come around, and you clear your entire schedule for that day strictly to watch football. No other sport compares to how big football is in America. Baseball may still be America’s pastime, but football is the most-watched sport by far. What is it about the sport though that makes it so appealing? Is it the fact that it only comes on once a week? (For the most part once a week, it’s now slowly taking over every day) Is it because of how physical the sport is? (It is still a physical sport…unless you play quarterback, are about to catch a ball, or are a punter…) Or, is it because of how big fantasy football has become, where some people will have multiple leagues managing a roster of players to compete against friends based on stats? All of these reasons contribute to the ever-rising popularity of the National Football League.

Baseball used to be one of the most-watched sports in America. It used to come on during the weekends where viewers would get a showcase game of two of the best teams in the majors. Since there wasn’t much access to baseball unless you actually went to the game, this made it very intriguing to sit down on the couch and enjoy some baseball for 3-4 hours on a weekend afternoon. (Now that Tony La Russa has retired, games may actually be in the 2-3 hour range now) That’s what made baseball so easy to watch though, it was only on once a week so you were able to sit through the entire game and thoroughly enjoy it. Nowadays, baseball is on every day of the week, and just as soon as the World Series ends before you know it is time for pitchers and catchers to start reporting. The rarity of how often games are entices fans, because it isn’t something you can always get. You come to value something if you have very little of it, whereas if a lot is available you don’t value it as much. This could explain why football is so dominant over every other sport in popularity. For the most part, the NFL only has games that take place on Sundays. Half the games take place at noon, while the other games take place at about 3:15. (Central Standard Time) Granted, there is always Sunday and Monday Night Football, but that is a spectacle all in its own. Monday Night Football is there when you think you just didn’t quite get enough Sunday. It is also a great thing to look forward to in order to get through Mondays. The fact that there is so little football provided during the week makes all of us binge football viewers. We all try and soak the whole thing up, and get as much as we possibly can out of during Sunday, because it won’t come around for another week. In short, the NFL is the special dessert or steak special that you have to come on a certain day to get and is particular to a certain restaurant, whereas the MLB is more of a house salad, it is very good, but available everywhere all the time.

Just a disclaimer for everything I’m writing here: everything I’m writing appeals to the average sports fan. I am well aware that certain people are die-hard baseball fans and will get very upset with my house salad reference (Asher), but just remember this is for the average fan; the kind of fan that would watch NASCAR just to see a crash. It is for the kind of fan that watches hockey anticipating a fight to break out. Even the fans that go to sports bars in anticipation that fans from opposing teams will drink too much and get in an argument and get in a fight with one another. The average fan is attracted to physicality; which is another reason why people are so attracted to the sport of football. It is 11 guys lining up against 11 guys trying to knock the crap out of each other. There is no anticipation for a big hit. Instead of wondering when it is going to happen it is more of a how or where question on when a hit stick will be delivered. Now, if we went back a few years, the game would be much more physical than it is today. Recent rule changes for player safety have taken out a lot of hits that can cause serious injury; although, even with all of the rule changes, football is still a very physical sport. Once you take a step onto a football field, there is a very good chance that part of your body will be left on that field. Despite all the rule changes where a player can’t hit a quarterback high, low, with their helmet, or launch themselves into the quarterback, quarterbacks still continue to take a beating, just as Jay Cutler. (By the way with Matt Schaub out for the year, I really need Cutler to step up for my fantasy team) The physicality draws in a lot of people. It is just a matter of man on man. The offensive player will try to go around, under, through, or over a defender just for that one extra yard, whereas a defender’s job is to stop the offensive man dead in his tracks. That type of battle over and over intrigues viewers to tune into what will happen next. You never when one hit will impact the entire game. In a league where the only sure thing is Aaron Rogers getting 30+ fantasy points every week, nothing else is guaranteed.

The Fantasy Phenomenon:
This is quite possibly the biggest reason why football is as big as it is today. It is none other than fantasy football. It is offered on a variety of web sites, and anyone with access to Internet can play it. A quick synopsis of fantasy football: A group of people get together and set up a league. Each person comes up with a witty team name to be known as for the year, and rules are set up to how the league will be run. This is followed by a draft of players that are currently playing in the NFL. You want to draft players with the best statistics, because the better the stats of the player you draft, the more points your team will get. For example, you would want a consistent quarterback who throws for a ton of yards and touchdowns like Aaron Rogers, instead of an interception-throwing machine like Curtis Painter. Once the teams have been filled and the draft has completed, the real fun begins. Teams go head-to-head to see which team will acquire the most points. The points are tallied up after the Monday night game, and whichever team had the most amount of points gets the Win. This creates so many more reasons to watch the NFL. Not only are you watching for your own enjoyment, but to see how the players on your team do that week. This is on top of watching your favorite team, the best match-up, or the best player. Fantasy football adds an entire different perspective in viewing the games every week. Instead of rooting for and against specific teams, you find yourself rooting for and against certain players. More and more people sign up to do fantasy football leagues every year. It makes any average football fan into a self-proclaimed sports analyst. Throughout the week people are glued to their TV’s to see which player is hurt and which player might have the best match up in the upcoming week. It has come to a point where fantasy football is played all throughout schools, offices, and anywhere else really. It is a game inside of a game that gives viewers a sense that they are involved in a game. It is almost like viewers own stock in the players they own, and they pray that their investment pays dividends in the near future, instead of costing them week after week until the player eventually has to be dropped or traded. It is a phenomenon that is growing each and every year, and has no indication of slowing down. In fact, fantasy football is so big, when it seemed the NFL lockout would never end people often wondered, “What am I going to do without fantasy football?”

Year after year the Super Bowl has the best ratings of any sporting event. The Super Bowl is such a big event, that even the commercials are more than worth watching. The Super Bowl isn’t a best of 7 series though like most sports, it is a winner take all drag it out dogfight to see who will be wearing the championship belt that year. The bulk of NFL games come around once a week. It is drawn to force all of its viewers to become binge football watchers. You fill yourself up with enough of it that you are almost tired of watching it. Then, by the time Wednesday comes around you just can’t wait to do it all over again. You can’t wait to watch how physical the games are going to be. What big hit will be delivered by whom and to who, and how much of a fine it will warrant. You also can’t wait to see how your fantasy team is going to do this upcoming week. The amount of storylines the game of football has is infinite. Not just on the national or local level, but the personal level as well. Just watching football seems to be a spectacle in its own. Football stadiums in America are bigger than any other sport in the country…by a lot. People gather from all around and are just fascinated with the game of football. Whatever story line you have though, it draws you in every week more than any other sport can. What day is it Wednesday? I can’t wait to watch some football and get another W for my fantasy team…

Day to Day Sports Contributor and co-founder


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