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Welcome to the life and chronicles of My Jersey Boys and me, B (the only girl who hangs out with them). Our original mission was to prove that not all of Jersey is obsessed with GTL. Now it's kind of become the place where we share our random thoughts, ridiculous stories, regular quote updates, and maybe a picture or video here and there. There's always something going on...

Love from,
The one and only,
B

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America and Football

Posted by D on 10:56 PM
This past weekend was an especially American one. In the midst of political conflict and economic turmoil, American unified temporarily to commemorate the 10th anniversary of September 11th. There aren't many things that the bring the country together like that. One is disaster. Another is war. Unfortunately, neither the former nor the latter is really true. As Paul Krugman controversially blogged a few days ago, September 11th quickly became a political slogan. The War in Iraq brought down the Bush Administration. Hurricane Katrina created significant racial tension (exacerbated it at least). It bothers me sometimes (all the time) that conflict is so ingrained in the fabric of our culture. Even though most of us agree on 99% of what really matters, we spend 99% of of our time arguing about what we don't agree on (those numbers may not be exact). I find it disturbing that the most positive national moment in the last few years was the announcement that the Navy Seals killed the most famous terrorist of our lifetime.

*I initially wrote that last sentence with "we" in place of "the Navy Seals," but I couldn't bring myself to attribute that event to "us." I'm don't know exactly why. I'm not sure if it's because I'm not comfortable including myself in the killing of another person (even if that purpose was the mastermind behind the murder of thousands of people) or if it's because I don't want to take the credit away from the soldiers who risked their lives for our freedom and safety. I struggle to resolve these sorts of issues. On one hand, I find it difficult to celebrate the action of killing. On the other, I realize that the world is not an idealistic place, tough decisions need to be made, and tough actions need to be carried out. Even though I know I'll never truly figure it out, I need to think about it some more.*

As I was saying, this country is extremely fractured, and there are very few things that bring us together. The only notable example I can think of is football (it only took me 2 full paragraphs to get to the point). When it appeared that the NFL may not start the season on time, I joked that Sunday church attendance would skyrocket. To a certain extent, I meant it seriously. I wouldn't be surprised if when polled, Americans favored football over god. Football is so popular that there is an entire day dedicated to the NFL. Football is so popular that somebody decided 1 entire day wasn't enough and gave us an additional night. Football is so popular that somebody else decided that the extra night wasn't enough gave us another additional night (sometimes). Football is so popular that somebody decided that 1 entire day and 2 additional nights weren't enough and gave us an entire day to watch college football. As if that wasn't enough, our national day of thanks is really just a football watching holiday. As if that still wasn't enough, millions of work hours every year are lost to people using stats to play pretend football on the internet. Finally, the Superbowl is overwhelmingly the most popular television event in the world (other than the quad-annual World Cup). I believe that the Superbowl holds all 10 spots in the top 10 most watched TV shows of all time. Last year, 1/3 of the entire population of the country watched the Superbowl. My guess is that number is an underestimate.

What is it about football that drives this country insane? Anybody who thinks baseball is still our National Pastime is just as delusional as those people who think American needs to go back to the better/simpler times of the 1970s (economic disaster), 1960s (Vietnam), 1950s (Red Scare/fear of Nuclear War), etc. Football is bigger than baseball ever was, and it hurts me as a baseball nutcase to say that. I wasn't kidding before when I said an entire day of the week was dedicated to football. In my mind, Sundays in Fall and Winter are football days. I never got any work done in college on Sundays. I would sit down and watch the 1pm game, then the 4:15 game, and then finally the 8:00 game. When the Giants lose, I am pissed for the entire week. When the Jets lose, I try to stay away from C (he is likely angry and drunk).

How did football become so popular? I think part of it is TV. Football is the perfect TV sport. As great as it is to attend a game in person, football is perfect for TV in terms of the design of the game (the field, camera angles, instant replay, etc) and the culture of the sport. Although it was before my time, I believe the invention of instant replay revolutionized the sports TV landscape. Replay is useful in baseball but not particularly necessary. But football? Imagine football without replay? Ludicrous. After replay came the wonderful yellow 1st down line. After the yellow line came 24 hour coverage on ESPN (the order of the last two is questionable). After ESPN came the internet (more on that later). After the internet came replay review. And so on and so on...

If there is anything this country likes as much as football it is gambling. Football has replaced horse-racing and poker as the national gambling activity of choice. Ever wonder why NFL teams are required to announce whether injured players are probable (75%), questionable (50%), doubtful (25%), or out (0%)? I promise you it's not about fair play among gentlemen. The NFL is smart enough to know that gambling is the primary force behind the popularity of the NFL. However, outright gambling has a stigma against in certain circles, so we created fake gambling and encouraged our kids to play. We call this phenomena (and it is a phenomena) fantasy football. Ask a football fan whether he cares more about his NFL team or his fantasy team, and you may be surprised at the answer.

If there is anything this country likes more than football and gambling, it is alcohol. J sent me a link today that said that Scotch sales are up even more than expected, and it seems like the good old USA is responsible (at least we have something to be proud of). Some genius out there brilliantly tied football to beer. J can talk more about advertising and marketing campaigns, but I'm watching the Den/Oak game right now, and all I can think about is the beer that's down the hall in my fridge. There is nothing more American that tailgating before a football game with a case of cheap beer and low quality hot dogs (except for maybe guns- we love our guns).

It's half time of the game, and I really want a beer.

D

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