Sunday, October 11, 2009

Ship Without a Sail on Sunday

A lot of people who live outside the United States cannot understand this country's fascination with American football. Here, we call it football but everyone else calls it American football because they all call soccer "football" which really does make sense because, quite frankly, you are only allowed to use your feet unless your are the goalie. Anyway, they don't understand our fascination with what we call football by in large, and that's okay. I have tried to explain it to non-Americans many times, the best I could ever do was to explain that it is as popular as soccer in this country but that it's only played once a week on Sundays. And one game on Monday. And on Thursdays in the second half of the season. And the last Tuesday of the season for high school teams. And Wednesday-Saturday for college. Anyway...That was always the best that I could do when trying to explain the football was like for us. But they never believed us. They would note that Chelsea or West Ham aren't exactly playing every day, and a lot of times major European soccer clubs are off playing other major European soccer clubs overseas. They are also quick to point out that football never inspires the kind of passion and allegiance in us as football does in them. And always their heavy gun is that soccer is WAY more popular worldwide than American football is.
Okay, that's fine, but I am talking about America here, not the whole world, and I think that I have come up with a good example of just how football affects the American people. See, every regular season runs for seventeen weeks, but each team plays sixteen games, meaning that each team has a bye week somewhere during the season. On any given week, starting in week four, four teams have a bye week each week. This week is the bye week for my team, and quite frankly, I am not exactly sure what to do with myself.
See, for me and tens of millions of other Americans, Sundays in autumn are scheduled and formed around football. I will attempt to schedule events or chores away from whatever time my team is playing, which is usually in the afternoon. I will do whatever I have to do in the morning. I will save certain other things for nighttime, because the hours between say noon and three I am usually parked in front of the TV watching football. If I can't be there for whatever reason I assure you that I won't be far from the radio listening to what is going on. Everything in my life, and the life of all those other people, comes to a screeching halt for like three hours. I think that's pretty powerful.
This weekend, however, is a completely different animal. Since my team has a bye this week, I am not exactly sure how to go about myself. I sort of feel like a ship without a sail because the one thing that always drove my schedule is gone. I sort of feel like I am drifting on the sea through the Doldrums with no hope of making it through. I mean, it's not that I won't watch or listen to ANY football at all, but I am not exactly going to chain myself to the mass media like I otherwise would. And this afternoon I might actually find myself out in the sunshine doing something productive. How strange is that? I won't be able to figure out what the hell is going on.
So that's all I got. That is the best that I can demonstrate just how much of an event, how deeply ingrained in society, is football in America. I know that it won't convince the soccer skeptics, and that's okay. But that is how it goes. I am like a ship without a sail on this bye week Sunday. Hopefully I land on a productive shore.

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