At a glance, this blog looks like a list of rules. But if you read the advice carefully, you’ll find that it’s much more than that. It’s a guide to watching NFL games. The author’s goal is to help you find ways to enjoy watching NFL games.
He wants to show you the best ways to enjoy nfl games and he wants to give you the tools you need to figure out how those best ways are different from other ways of watching football games. That is, he wants to help you make your own fun.
In short, this blog is a guide for making fun of other people’s fun. And that takes some doing.
A lot of people say that watching sports is a waste of time. They think it’s boring, and they don’t get the point of it. But sports are different from other kinds of entertainment, and watching sports is one of life’s great pleasures.
As with any kind of entertainment, the key to enjoying it is understanding how it works, which is something we barely know. That isn’t because sports are complicated; they’re not. It’s because we have no idea how they work.
We might have some methods for predicting which teams will win games or what kind of plays they’ll make in particular conditions. But we don’t understand why anyone would watch them or why anyone would choose to go to a game rather than just staying at home. We don’t understand why people pay money to watch them on TV or why people follow them around the country or even why they play games at all. That’s what makes sports so exciting: we don’t know exactly what we’re doing, but it’s pretty clear that something surprising is happening, and that makes us excited.
We know how to watch football (or baseball) on TV: you put on a good game, find a game to watch on TV, and then sit down and enjoy the show. But
Rules. You can’t have a blog about football without having rules, and I’m not talking about the rules of the game: what you can or cannot do to the ball (for instance, not tackling it if it’s on your own goal line). And I’m not talking about the rules of writing: what words you can and cannot use, how many sentences you can use per paragraph, where you can put a semicolon, how many commas you need at the end of a sentence, whether pronouncing words like “franchise” is correct or not.
The rules mean different things to different people. To me the rule is “don’t make me ask myself over and over if anything I’m doing is boring.” That rule has worked pretty well for me: my advice is generally boring enough that I’ve been able to get paid for saying it without violating that rule. But as long as there are other people around who will say it for free, I’ll leave them alone.
NFL games are unique in that they are both a gambling product and a spectacle. Most of what we watch at a football game involves gambling because most of us are betting on the outcomes of plays we aren’t watching. But even more than most other sports, NFL games
The rules that follow are a bit unusual, but they are based on my experience as a lover of both football and baseball, and I hope they will apply to watching football games as well.
1. No matter how bad the weather is, sit in the sun. If you’re sitting in the shade, it’s not raining. If you’re sitting in the sun, the sun is not raining.
2. Do not watch unless you are at least 50% sure you understand what happened and why it happened. Sit by your TV, take out your iPad and do other interesting things instead of watching.
People who are interested in football (or setting a record for the longest touchdown reception) often have trouble enjoying the game. This is because they focus too closely on the rules.
There are only ten rules, after all. And two of them, “No running with the ball,” and “No touching a live ball with your hand or arm,” are repeated over and over at every play. You can watch four games and see them all.
But there’s more to a football game than that. There’s something about the way fans make noise and cheer, something about the rhythm of the game, something about how it changes when you go away from home to someplace different – say, to a stadium thousands of miles away – that makes it hard to remember that there are only ten rules in the first place.
The trouble is not with the rules; it’s with your mind. It’s not easy for most people to watch an NFL game without trying to figure out what the players should do next or even what they’re doing now; their minds aren’t used to being quiet long enough to let their bodies do things by themselves.
The NFL was the first pro league to employ a full-time official for each game. For years the refs were just line judges, and their only purpose was to make sure that the ball didn’t cross the goal line. But in the late 1960s they started wearing striped shirts, which quickly became as much a part of their persona as their stripes.
The stripes also had a practical function: each official’s shirt was numbered, and the refs used them to tell which way the ball should be thrown on a disputed play. So if you’re watching a game and you think you’ve seen something that violates one of the new rules, check to see if your official is number 13 or 14 or 15, and then check to see what rule it violates.
While watching a game, your eyes are trained on the on-field action. But what you don’t see is as significant as what you do.
During a review of game footage, here is something to look at: the face of the ref and the faces of the players. The ref’s expression is one that says, “I’m just doing my job.” Players’ faces are one of pure emotion: “Wow! I just did something incredible!”
The referee and the players’ reactions reveal a lot about how the game was run. The ref doesn’t want to be involved in decision making; it would interfere with his judgment. So he makes the call on his own. The players might disagree with him, but they don’t challenge him. They’re focused on their own performance; they don’t waste time arguing about rules or strategy or strategy changes.