Friday, September 28, 2007

Why Football is Important

As strange as this may sound, from time to time I’ve encountered people who are critical of my year-round passion (they often use the term obsession) for NFL football and the Green Bay Packers in particular. These individuals find it especially odd that:

--Each year I spend a lovely April weekend sitting in front of the TV watching the NFL Draft for 9 hours at a stretch.

--On Saturday nights in August, I check the score of meaningless preseason games every, oh, ten minutes or so.

--I let the national media’s goofy “Power Rankings” seriously elevate my blood pressure, when the Packers are not given the respect they are due.

--Besides watching every minute of every game the Packers play on Sunday, at my house we stay up until early Monday morning watching game highlights and analysis—over and over and over.

--We have two Christmas trees: a conventional one with colorful ornaments and pretty lights and so forth, and then THE PACKER TREE, with green and gold garlands and ornaments featuring somewhat rude, but festive, holiday greetings for Bears fans.

These skeptics try to tell me that if I cut down the hours I spend devoted to the Packers, I’d free up valuable time for other activities. What fabulous activities do they have in mind, I ask them: Yard work? Going to the opera? Visiting relatives I’ve never really liked?

I feel sorry for these people because they just don’t get it: Football Is Important. And here are a few--out of the hundreds--of reasons why:

Order out of chaos. It’s getting more and more difficult to understand the world around us—politics, the economy, international tensions, climate change. Events sometimes seem to be spinning out of control. And most of the time we can’t tell if we’re winning or not. Football is the opposite. At the end of the game, the scoreboard shows the absolute truth, expressed clearly, and for all time. Nothing vague, nothing uncertain. Total clarity.

Forestalling the bleak wintertime. A popular TV commercial has the tagline: Life Comes At You Fast! In many parts of the country, winter comes at you fast as well. Too fast. It seems as though you’ve just gotten back from the beach on Labor Day and snow flurries start to fall. NFL Football provides a kind of national hearth, where we can warm ourselves with our team’s success and avoid dealing with the grim concept of grey skies and freezing temperatures until after the Super Bowl in February.

Closing the generation gap. Who says parents and kids, or grandparents and kids, don’t have anything to talk about? Packer fans have 80+ years of glorious history to remember and discuss. Packer passion is something that is passed down the generations. It adds spirit and just plain fun to any family gathering. Let’s put it this way: Would you rather spend Thanksgiving dinner talking about complicated playoff scenarios or have a lively discussion about how Aunt Louise keeps that turkey so moist every year?

(continued in next blog)

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