As I live in the Land of the Twelves, the heroics of BatKam are well known to me and my neighbors, and woe unto the wide receiver, running back or quarterback who enters his realm.
HOWEVER: What is it about football that makes us root so hard, and so faithfully, for our local team? Why is it that a random Sunday Night Football game beats a World Series game in the ratings?
It’s not a pure popularity thing. Soccer is strong here, and I know some insane baseball fans.
Football feels different.
Here’s my theory:
1) Other games, like baseball, look like games.
Baseball has a neat diamond, a slow pace and very individual stats with players spread out. It’s a team sport, sure, but more than one player is rarely involved unless it’s from a distance, or two outfielders screw up and run into each other chasing a fly ball.
Basketball is more of team vs. team sport, but it’s also more civilized than football. Sure, there’s contact in the post, and sharp elbows. It’s not a tackling sport by nature.
Hockey is more of a “warriors wearing armor” motif like football, but it’s a lot like basketball and soccer in the scoring and the spacing. Clumping up is usually a bad thing.
Boxing and MMA are actual fights, but champion fighters might lose their belts tomorrow or decide to move to Hollywood and try action movies.
Teams have staying power. You can root for them year after year.
2) Football looks and feels like war.
This is maybe the heart of football’s appeal: it’s Seattle versus San Francisco, and our strongest warriors are better than yours. Except nobody has to die.
Unlike hockey and other games where the clock keeps running, the different downs of football actually make it better. Those stoppages let football teams line up in different formations, like armies facing each other, and use an ever-changing arsenal of complicated strategies, tactics and formations.
All this gives coaches and teams vastly different personalities: finesse vs. power, defensive might vs. offensive juggernauts, the best free agents vs. building talent from young drafted players.
I’ve watched soccer for years. Technically, there are all kinds of different formations that teams and coaches use. But honestly, it looks the same to average fans like me. Same thing with basketball. Does anybody aside from deadly serious basketball fans know what Phil Jackson’s triangle offense is? Even the most casual football fan, though, can see the difference between a power running game and a spread passing attack. They get it. You don’t need to be an expert. It looks like a battle and you can tell which team, as a whole, is pushing the other team around or tricking them into big plays.
But hey, this is a random theory, and an excuse to play an awesome BatKam video from the series of tubes.
Here’s to hoping that Seattle and the Legion of Boom win one more game, even against the noble Packers (good people, good fans, good team–it would have been more fun to crush the Cowboys).
I believe in our young warriors and our ageless, energetic, positive coach, so unlike the stereotypical football guru on the sideline who never smiles.
I believe the 12’s can break the world record for noise, and that our running back can cause an earthquake.
And that doesn’t happen with other sports.
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Guy Bergstrom. Photo by Suhyoon Cho.
Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that won some award and is represented by Jill Marr of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.