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GAIL WHITE What is so fan-tastic about watching football?



Published: Fri, February 1, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



What's all the fuss about, anyway?

The football craze has about crazed me into insanity.

This sport turns my household into a herd of rabid maniacs.

All over a game that, I believe, was invented by barbarians.

One of the most peculiar aspects of fanaticism I have observed in regard to this game is the sense of ownership each fanatic possesses.

Part of the team: I have listened to countless conversations from one fanatic to another using the terms "we" and "us" when referring to their team of choice.

I suspect, when fans purchase over-priced team memorabilia, they suspect they have bought a share of the team -- a piece of team stock.

A $17 hat gives them one share. A $55 jersey gives them three shares, they think.

Though this stock holds no voting power, it gives the beholder license to yell, complain, cheer and celebrate the team.

The more memorabilia a fanatic has, the louder he yells and cheers.

This must be the mentality behind buying gaudy-looking clothing and outerwear that is so astronomically priced.

Another curious behavior of fanatics is that when they watch a game, they yell at the bad plays and cheer the good ones. I have tried to explain to my household fanatics that the players cannot hear them through the television.

I have even gone so far as to suggest that the coach does not care about their opinions of his players.

But then I remember, they have stock (and lots of it!). It's their team.

Confusing game: While the fervor over this sport has me befuddled, it is the concept of the game that has me most confused.

Men crouch down on all fours across from each other so that they can charge into one another.

An absolutely preposterous premise for a sport!

One man bends over, looking into the rear end of a crouched-over man. He puts his hands between the other man's legs and shouts some code words. (I suspect the words are written on the crouched-over's rear.)

Then, crouched-over shoves the ball between his legs to rear-reader.

Rear-reader then runs backward while the rest of the crouched-overs attack one another.

I suspect that the rear-reader is the most intelligent player in this game of barbarism. He has the ball, but he fervently tries to get rid of it before he is slaughtered.

To me, that should be the object of the game -- to stay as far away from the ball as possible.

Why would anyone want to have the ball if they know it will bring a herd of angry bestial bodies looking to pummel them?

Yet, it seems, someone always does want the ball. In fact, if it is lost, there is a mad rush to recover it, often to the peril of the man who recovers it.

Bad behavior: The behavior of the players of this game is most peculiar as well.

When a player with the ball has managed to out-run those that would crush him, he gyrates most obnoxiously.

His own teammates then begin to assault him by banging him in the head with their helmets.

It seems that even when you accomplish the objective of this game, abuse is your reward.

By far, the most bizarre occurrence of this game is when the television camera pans the sidelines where these huge, monstrous men sit when they are not beating someone or being beaten.

Inevitably, the camera will pause on a player. Often, it is the poor soul who found himself at the bottom of the pile of bestial bodies and is now icing down some part of his body.

The camera stops.

The player looks up.

He smiles a pained, sweaty smile, waves and says, "Hi, Mom!"

Why do they wave to Mom?

Mom wanted her precious child to be fanatical about reading books, not butts.

The player licks his wounds (literally) and returns to the game for his next beating.

The barbarian fanatics go wild.

gwhite@vindy.com




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