Four reasons you probably hate the NFL (and why I love it)

Melanie Dinjaski Roar Guru

By Melanie Dinjaski,

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    While most people crawl out of bed, crusty-eyed and reaching for the sleep button, last Monday morning I found myself springing to life with one thing on my mind – “It’s Sunday Night!” That’s when I knew I had officially fallen in love with American football. But in Australia, not everyone is a fan.

    To those who don’t follow the NFL, being excited about ‘Sunday Night’ on Monday morning probably doesn’t make much sense, but basically it’s when One air live games direct from the USA’s National Football League on NBC.

    I wasn’t always this into American football.

    I vaguely remember coming across the sport during the Denver Bronco years in the late 90s, fuelled to find out more because of the repeated mention of John Elway in South Park.

    Then a few years later, I stumbled across the Super Bowl being aired on SBS. Glimpses of Damien Lovelock’s dog Rocket and the amazing 100K-plus crowds, was pretty much the reason I stuck around.

    God knows I didn’t understand one bit about the actual sport.

    In fact, I recall rooting for the team I thought had the nicer colour scheme.

    But I’ve come a very long way since then.

    I now have a favourite team (New England Patriots) and even a couple of favourite players (Tom Brady & Danny Woodhead). I watch as much NFL as I can, and try and keep up with the talking points of the game.

    And having just recently finished watching every episode in Emmy Award-winning series ‘Friday Night Lights’, it’s fair to say footbaw has become a bit of an obsession of mine lately.

    Surprisingly though, most people I’ve spoken to about NFL (including Australian sport journos) are indifferent and completely unappreciative of what it has to offer sporting enthusiasts.

    Of course every person has the right to choose what they like and what they don’t like. But it’s my belief that half of the people who quickly dismiss the value of American football and the NFL, just haven’t taken the time to properly appreciate the nuances of the game.

    Having once related to the following pet hates, here are some reasons American football probably doesn’t float your boat.

    1. The stopping and starting – Australians are used to watching football of the AFL, rugby league, rugby union, and soccer variety. These are all sports where the ball is constantly being passed around, in play, and often at pace.

    Interchanges are limited, and generally the moment to consult the coaching staff is at quarter/half time.

    This isn’t the case in the NFL. After each and every play it’s not unusual to see players going on, coming off, the offense and defence consulting the sideline, before getting into their respective huddles, and then re-setting to do it all again.

    It takes too much time, it’s hard to keep track of who is on and off, and it hurts the flow of the game. Then there’s the amount of timeouts they’re allowed to use, making it one of the few sports where a team can realistically still win with just 30 seconds on the clock.

    2. The equipment – Helmets, shoulder pads, knee pads, thigh pads, hip pads, gloves, tail pads, neck rolls, rib pads and elbow pads are all used in American football.

    The equipment is there to help avoid players being injured, but ironically it’s the equipment which has been condemned for actually causing more serious, career-ending damage, such as the injuries caused by players tackling helmet-first. On top of that, players cover this bulky plastic protective gear with brightly coloured, tight-fitting, spandex and nylon. It’s all a bit much isn’t it?

    3. Rigidity of the playbook – American football is a highly structured sport. Each player has a particular job and the coach’s playbook says what their job will be for each play.

    Though I understand what they’re trying to do, even I find it irritating at times when I see a running back handed the ball only to run straight into traffic for zero yards gained; especially when he could have easily improvised and made a first down by running around the line of scrimmage.

    To better get our heads around this we shouldn’t think of this sport as a game of “football”. As I say to everyone, think of gridiron as a game of chess. There are the obvious comparisons that can be made, such as the importance of protecting your king (the quarterback) while trying to outplay and defeat your opposition at the other end of the playing area.

    But then there are the strategic elements of American football that relate directly to chess, like having to pre-empt and counteract your opponents’ defence and having select types of moves (plays) you can perform. Think of the game this way, and trust me, it will all make a lot more sense.

    4. NFL players – Where to start? They’re overpaid, in oversupply and yes, some are even overweight. Big egos are also not hard to locate at an NFL game. With every successful catch, block, throw, whatever, at any moment NFL superstars will be ready to remind you of how brilliant they are with some sort of outlandish, self-obsessed celebration.

    For the humble Australian sports fan ingrained with an incessant case of tall-poppy syndrome and the familiar phrase “full credit to the boys”, this is just a bit too much to digest.

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    The Crowd Says (78)

    • November 24th 2011 @ 6:13am
      Brendon said | November 24th 2011 @ 6:13am | ! Report

      Or the fact that its the most tedious and monotonous sport in the history of the universe. Yes, I am 100% if there are aliens out there and they have sports American football is worse.

      The most damning thing about American football is that out of the 4 major North American sports it is the ONLY one NOT to grow outside the USA. Basketball is big sport around the world. Ice hockey is more popular than real football in some parts of Scandinavia and Central/Eastern Europe. Even baseball is popular in the Caribbean, some South American countries, Japan and Korea.

      Americans love it because they’re an insular country that doesn’t know any better.

      The NFL has spent a lot of time, effort and especially money in trying to grow their sport. NFL Europe was a flop.

      I had a friend who used to watch the Don Lane NFL highlights show on the ABC. He went to the Denver v San Diego game at Olympics Stadium. I spoke to him after the game thinking he would really have enjoyed it with the game being so close. He said it was the most boring experience of his life. He never followed NFL again.

      • November 24th 2011 @ 4:35pm
        Underarm said | November 24th 2011 @ 4:35pm | ! Report

        “Americans love it because they’re an insular country that doesn’t know any better” sounds like AFL supporters

      • November 24th 2011 @ 7:00pm
        Nathan of Perth said | November 24th 2011 @ 7:00pm | ! Report

        Not to put too fine a point on it, but you sound like a mirror image of the “insular” American stereotype. Not the opposite, oh god no. Just a mirror image.

    • November 24th 2011 @ 6:55am
      kovana said | November 24th 2011 @ 6:55am | ! Report

      I used to like NFL, especially during the time of the SuperBowl, AND of course due to all those hollywood movies which showed the game as a non-stop heart stopper..

      After trying to watch full games when sober, i just knew this wasnt the game for me.

    • November 24th 2011 @ 8:27am
      Football United said | November 24th 2011 @ 8:27am | ! Report

      i generally dislike most things that come out of that god-forsaken basket case country but that ‘sport’ takes the cake. i think the thing that annoys me the most is the conference rubbish. the yanks will blab on how professional their league is yet their fixture has got to be the most unfair ridiculous attempt at a draw and even puts the afl to shame.

      I normally will try and appreciate a game for what it is and not what i want it to be but unfortunately it’s not for me.

      • November 29th 2011 @ 12:26pm
        Blazza said | November 29th 2011 @ 12:26pm | ! Report

        conferences are what make sports in america.
        division rivals.
        im a philadelphia eagles fan and 3 of our 4 wins this season are against division teams.
        if you dont like nfl thats fine but blaming it on conferences is just lame.

    • November 24th 2011 @ 8:45am
      Rodney McDonell said | November 24th 2011 @ 8:45am | ! Report

      I’m yet to sit through a full game, but i do try – much like sitting through a full game of RU. Unfortunately it’s the most complex sports that are the hardest to understand and thus follow… However, like most things in life, the most complex problems to solve or the hardest obsticles to overcome can be the most rewarding. So maybe i’ll give it another shot.

      • November 24th 2011 @ 1:00pm
        Al said | November 24th 2011 @ 1:00pm | ! Report

        Complex sports created for the sake of being complex isn’t a particularly good indicator as to how challenging or in depth the game is, in fact the more simple games lend themselves to much more creativity both on field and for coaching staff off field as they aren’t restricted in how they can play the game by over the top and non-sensical rules. The rules of chess for example can be written down on half a page yet tomes of differing strategies and techniques have been written about chess. Many of the grand masters have played the game utilising diametrically opposing gameplans and tactics and the incredible depth of chess could only have ever been realised by keeping the rules of the game relatively simple.

        • November 25th 2011 @ 11:11am
          Nathan of Perth said | November 25th 2011 @ 11:11am | ! Report

          Its not really for the sake of being complex. The development of the sport was heavily influenced by the industrial culture of its origins areas and their outlook influenced the game’s philosophy.

    • November 24th 2011 @ 8:54am
      B.A Sports said | November 24th 2011 @ 8:54am | ! Report

      I love the NFL.
      Is it perfect … heck no. I think the reasons you listed above as to why some people (Australians) don’t like it are certainly the reasons people give, but I actually think they are excuses.

      Is American Football stop start – well sure it often is. There is more down time between balls in cricket, yet we accept that. In league and union we stop for an eternity for scrums and kicks at goal, and in AFL the ball and clock are constantly stopping when the ball goes out of bounds and when the ball can’t get out of a pack. But if anything, compared to the Australian football codes, American football actually flows better because the stoppages have a consistency to them where as the stops in the Australian football codes are all over the shop.

      I think the reason why most people give the reasons you have mentioned is because they don’t understand the game, and/or don’t have the intelligence or desire to learn something new. One can act like they know everything there is to know about the NRL or AFL, because the game that the fans are exposed to is not that complicated, the NFL is. Many of our NRL/AFL lounge chair critics like to spruik to their friends, work colleagues (and today fellow forum writers) that they know all there is to know about their “great game”, but because the NFL is not followed by many in Australia, they have no-one to show off their “knowledge” to.

      One other reason people will give you for why they don’t like the NFL – because it is “American”! People will spew a whole bunch of anti-american gibberish as to why you shouldn’t watch the NFL before going home to watch Bing Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men, or putting their I-pod in their ears to listen to some Beyonce or Jay-zee (sorry I have no better pop-culture reference than that!). Again, excuse makers.

      If you don’t like it, you don’t like it – fine. If you don’t want to watch any other sports – fine. Just stop making excuses people.

      • November 24th 2011 @ 9:25am
        The Truth Hurts said | November 24th 2011 @ 9:25am | ! Report

        I watched it, undrestand it and even played it and guess what.

        I still don’t like it.

        No excusses just my opinion. And if you find that hard swallow well thats your bad luck.

        And there must be something wrong with the sport when there’s a world only too eagar to consume American culture. Yet, American Football keeps being spat back out (failed world competition, chants of “boring” going up at matches played in Australia).

        You should stop making excuses yourself on its lack of popularity outside America and enjoy the sport, instead of worrying about what other people think.

        • November 24th 2011 @ 12:40pm
          saangers said | November 24th 2011 @ 12:40pm | ! Report

          may i ask why you don’t like it, as I’ve only ever watch it and never played an organised game.

        • November 24th 2011 @ 3:40pm
          B.A said | November 24th 2011 @ 3:40pm | ! Report

          Dude why be antsy? You tried it and didn’t like it, that’s ok. I like american football, i don’t expect everyone to. The author proposed some reasons why people say they don’t like it. And i think they are just lines that people (not the author) use as an easy answer.

        • November 24th 2011 @ 4:40pm
          Underarm said | November 24th 2011 @ 4:40pm | ! Report

          What ever more like never played it, never watched it and just trolling

    • November 24th 2011 @ 9:03am
      Tony said | November 24th 2011 @ 9:03am | ! Report

      Having been a fan of the NFL here in Australia, i ended up on exchange to a big US college ( 75,000 fans per game) that truly blows your mind. The entire fan experience is like nothing else, from the early morning drinking at the tailgate parties to the standing and chanting all throughout the game. Australians like cricket which if you saw being played next to a NFL game, and you decided to watch the cricket I would seriously consider you insane. The game is an excellent spectacle played by the finest athletes in the world.

      • November 24th 2011 @ 9:14am
        BigAl said | November 24th 2011 @ 9:14am | ! Report

        actually, I have often thought that the structure/flow of gridiron is very much like cricket, with a ‘play’ being very similar to a ball being bowled.
        Both processes are about setting things up for a result – most times nothing much happens, and then it all happens !

      • November 24th 2011 @ 9:31am
        The Truth Hurts said | November 24th 2011 @ 9:31am | ! Report

        You know the sports no good when people talk about everything else except what goes on on the playing field.

        And please, “played by the finest athletes in the world”. If you think steroid abusing (Five game penalty for first offence), over weight and unfit (oxygen after 100m touchdown) sportsmen are the finest in the world, then you must have pretty low standards.

        • November 24th 2011 @ 3:44pm
          B.A said | November 24th 2011 @ 3:44pm | ! Report

          Ok now your just joking. One of the GREAT things about american football (and baseball for that matter) is the amount of “on field” action that gets reported and analysed. If anything it gets over analysed! Hope your not a rugby league fan! The Daily Telegraph haven’t had a a back page story about a game in 14 years!

        • Roar Guru

          November 24th 2011 @ 4:05pm
          peeeko said | November 24th 2011 @ 4:05pm | ! Report

          Mae, I’m not a big fan but therecare many different types of athlete in the NFL. Some of the running backs, wide receivers and kick returners are among the best athletes in any sport I have seen.

      • November 24th 2011 @ 9:57am
        Lucan said | November 24th 2011 @ 9:57am | ! Report

        College football and the NFL are very different beasts. The fan culture of College ball is spectacular.

        Nothing I’ve seen of the NFL (that includes Green Bay) comes close to it.

        • November 29th 2011 @ 12:29pm
          Blazza said | November 29th 2011 @ 12:29pm | ! Report

          yea its slightly different but have you seen fans in seattle,philly,pittsburg, oakland etc..
          completely wrong in my opinion

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