Before I begin this next installment of InQuire Sport’s favourite series of articles, I feel it only appropriate to thank the rugby players and fans for taking the bait of my last edition. In doing so you gave me far more publicity than my other articles have received, so thank you for reading it and I hope you read my other works.
Now, to American Football. My complaints with the sport itself are going to be relatively minor in this article. I won’t even wield the petty jibe of saying that American Football does not really utilise the foot and the ball is more egg-shaped, this is not that kind of article. I enjoy keeping up with the sport and cannot help but be impressed by the physics defying antics of Odell Beckham Jnr making one handed catches whilst jumping backwards and Patrick Mahomes nonchalantly throwing a no-look pass. No, this is more of a fundamental issue with American sports at large, which is best exemplified by American Football. All I ask is that you do not take the approach of your rugby colleagues and criticise me for not paying attention to the more obscure parts of your sport, the NFL is the target here, but it seeps further down like a virus into a sponge. I’m not sure it’s fair to expect anyone to watch anything other than the NFL when it comes to American Football. And before you say anything to the contrary, yes I have played it.
The American capitalist juggernaut and their doctrine of freedom sound brilliant on paper next to the feudal origins of our own nation, but this does not translate so favourably into the sporting realm. May I ask you a quick question, how many times have you actually watched a full match of American Football? Not just highlights, but from start to finish? It is an almost painful experience. The average NFL game last 3 hour 12 minutes, but the ball is only in play for one hour, and not even all of this is actual action rather preparing for the following play. This is not a sport devised around the beauty and enjoyment of playing, but one that has been created to feed the American beast of advertising and consumerism. Shows such as How I Met Your Mother, during the episode about watching the Super Bowl, reference the adverts during the off time of the Super Bowl more than they talk about the game itself. To me, sport should be as pure as is possible, not one large billboard for somebody else to peddle their wares. European sports only have stoppages to benefit the game. Half-time in football is 15 minutes and is provided so the players can recharge to keep up the to-and-fro during the next half. The over one hundred adverts that take place during an American Football game do not provide such solace to the athletes, given each side replace who is on the field depending on who has the ball. Too much precedence is given to people who should not have a say. As seems a general trend in America, money comes before art.
I have noticed a worrying trend of late, Dua Lipa performing before the Champions League final and Tinie Tempah performing at the FA Cup final. The Super Bowl has given some concerning ideas to the heads of my favourite sport that the sport should be a part of a greater show. THE SPORT SHOULD BE THE SHOW. Both of the aforementioned artists are talented and have their place, but it is not their job to increase my excitement for what I am about to watch. I was already very excited to see Liverpool pit their wits against Real Madrid before ‘One Kiss’ came on. But, because the NFL is so financially successful, it must be a good thing, right? Wrong. When the Super Bowl comes on in February, the fact that Maroon 5 are playing at half-time will be the furthest thing from my mind. If people aren’t going to watch because they want to watch the sport, then you should not be finding a way to cater to them, it is a sporting event, not Glastonbury.
As well as this, American Football has actually found its way to ruin the American version of true football. The closed league system of the NFL, NBA and MLB have been recreated in the MLS. Financially for the owners this does make sense as their investment is safe and can help bread economic stability into the sport, nobody has to panic buy Jordan Rhodes when their striker isn’t scoring, and Sam Allardyce doesn’t receive his yearly phone call from a club staring at the Championship. But it does make a lot of the season reasonably pointless, with clubs potentially tanking their own season to improve their position in next year’s draft. European sports have nail biters right to the end across the board, when Huddersfield played Cardiff in the Premier League it was not a non-event, but a 6 pointer in which both sides needed to beat the other, with their top flight status all-but on the line (the less said about the quality of this game the better, but it really matters in the wider context) In comparison, when the San Francisco 49ers played the Arizona Cardinals in this year’s season, there was nothing riding on it because neither side had even an outside chance of making the post-season.
Once more, there is a roughly 0% chance of this making any difference. For one, it is written in a different country, and I think we all know how Americans react to outsiders. Also, it is a system ingrained in decades of a sport and nobody likes change. But I was made to write another one of these (thanks again Rugby for the views) and I have somewhat exhausted my genuine gripes with sports. But we will learn on the backlash to this whether the Kent Falcons are more considerate than the rugby team, in whether they actually read the article before trying to critique me.