Learning to Care About Football

I don’t know anything about football. I mean I know the general rules because I grew up in America. But, I don’t care about it. Lots of people do, though. See:

John Martinez Pavliga/Flickr
John Martinez Pavliga/Flickr


So, as part of my student USC grad school education, I’m trying to learn to care. Partially this is useful because it may be hard to be any kind of semi-respected sports reporter (even if you’re a sports reporter specializing in not football) without knowing enough to have a conversation. Partially, though, it’s an experiment. Can I learn enough to know the intricacies? To care about them? To have opinions?

It’s not like I can’t learn things fast and like I don’t care about sports generally. And, it’s not like I haven’t read a ton of books about the behind-the-scenes of sports I previously knew nothing about. (Ask me anything about late-1990s gymnastics. I went through a phase.) I’ve even read a few football books, including some really good ones. But, football is so immersed in statistics and shorthand and references to the past that it’s hard for a newbie or outsider to be welcomed into the fold. Part of me thinks the diehard fans prefer it this way.

I don’t know that I’ll ever become a diehard fan. There’s too many people who know too much for me to ever catch up. The base level knowledge for a general middle-aged football fan in America is shockingly high. What could the country accomplish if that amount of effort and attention to detail had been directed elsewhere? Perhaps little more than fewer concussions and a well-developed fantasy Congress instead.

Still, I’ve already read more about college football than I ever have in the past. Steve was impressed with my knowledge of Josh Shaw. And, the whole first issue of my re-subscription to Sports Illustrated was dedicated to the NFL preview, which I mostly skimmed, except for the profiles, because everything started to blend together into gibberish. It’s like the world wants me to care about football, but it making it as challenging as possible. Jump right in. Who do you think will win this weekend? Next weekend? In January? But don’t you think UCLA’s program is making a turn-around? And, how will the 49ers recover from Aldon Smith’s suspension? What about Ray Rice’s suspension? And Josh Gordon’s? Don’t you have an informed opinion? Have an opinion! Get informed! Care!


3 thoughts on “Learning to Care About Football

  1. I actually think college football is easier to get a handle on than NFL football, because no matter what, the teams are going to turn over — COMPLETELY — every 3-4 years at most. I get that coaches stay longer and programs have legacies and whatnot, but in terms of the actual football, it’s pretty different every year. (I say this as a lifelong Steelers fan who basically didn’t see a game of college football until I was actually IN college.) For the NFL, the biggest thing that made a difference for me knowing stuff about the sport in general was having a fantasy team. I don’t know all the players and stats or anything, but I do know MY players and their stats and can drop that shit in conversation when required.

    Also, Ray Rice’s suspension should be longer, the Steelers might want to have a running back who wasn’t arrested for smoking weed, and as of this exact moment, I think Devin Funchess is going to score one million touchdowns for Michigan this season.

    1. That’s what everyone says about college football. But, I actually barely retain stats and names and numbers about sports I’m SUPER in to. So, having everything change constantly would just be even more complicated.

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