Brain dump: American football

For your possible amusement, here is everything I know about American football.

Please note that (a) this information may be partially or wholly incorrect, (b) I don’t care, and (c) I don’t want to know any more about American football than I already do, so don’t waste your time.

American football is a sport played on a rectangular grass pitch. The object of the game is to transport the “ball”, which is shaped like a rugby ball, to the opposing team’s end of the pitch. The other team tries to stop you by running into you at high speed, often with their heads down. Everyone wears protective armor and helmets, which means they have to collide harder to be effective, which means they all gradually get brain damage as they play. They also all wear skin-tight Spandex. However, only one or two of them are gay.

There are lines at intervals on the pitch which are like save points — if you get the ball to one of them before someone knocks you to the ground, you get to restart from there. The gaps between the lines are measured in yards, which is an old fashioned measurement only used for football pitches.

The game starts with the two teams lined up facing each other in the middle of the pitch. One of the teams grabs the ball and tries to run with it, and the other team tries to stop them. After a few seconds they succeed, and the game pauses. Everyone stands up and wanders around, discusses what just happened, drinks Gatorade, phones their family for a chat, and so on. Usually there’s an ad break while they’re wandering around. After the ad break, the TV commentators remind everyone what happened during the few seconds of actual game, everyone gets back into position at the last save point, and there are a few more seconds of action. Getting through an entire game takes hours.

Also, at either end of the pitch are goals shaped like giant capital Hs. I think occasionally one of the players is tasked with kicking the ball through the other team’s goal, but I’ve no idea when this is required. The only reason I know about the kicking thing at all is from reading Peanuts cartoons where Charlie Brown used to want to practice doing it and Lucy Van Pelt used to trick him by pulling the ball away at the last moment. Given how infrequently it occurs, it’s odd that the game is called “football”.

American football teams mostly have names comprised of the name of a city where they were founded, plus the name of some kind of fierce or cunning animal. There used to be teams named after a city plus an amusing racial stereotype, but most of those have changed their names now.

Super Bowl Sunday is like the cup final of American football. It’s a really big event in America. Nobody else cares, and it has fewer viewers than cricket, though probably more of them are awake. It happens in late January or early February. There are usually multiple hours of TV before the game even starts, talking about what might be about to happen.

Half way through the Super Bowl game there’s a performance by some popular artist who needs the exposure, and a bunch of particularly expensive TV advertisements. People generally talk about these about as much as they talk about the actual game, which is a good indication of how exciting the game is.

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