Football Uber Alles. Uber Alles, Football

Play associated audio

Football is real big. Everybody knows that. But it is getting bigger. Football is now gigantic, monstrous, humongous. Sure, it was years ago that it passed baseball as our most popular sport, but by now it simply looms alone above the American sportscape.

I would rank the U.S. sports entities this way:

  1. The NFL
  2. College football
  3. Fantasy football
  4. Major League Baseball
  5. High school football
  6. The NBA

Oh, the first two weeks of NBA season have been canceled because of a labor dispute — and maybe the whole season is in jeopardy? But have you heard much weeping and wailing about that? No! Hey, we got our football.

Any run-of-the-mill NFL game scores ratings numbers above what baseball, the erstwhile national pastime, does with its championships.

We can't get enough football. Why, I think you can make the argument now that the NFL draft –– a bunch of guys reading off names in a ballroom –– is the premier American sporting event of the spring.

No, American football never will be as dominant as soccer, which stands supreme in so many countries. Baseball, basketball and ice hockey, too, maintain large and passionate fandoms here.

But what has changed is that now we don't have four major team sports. We have football uber alles — and three other subsidiary popular games.

Football's hegemony was established because it plays so well on TV, and is, with the point spread, such a perfect game to bet. Its recent upsurge, I believe, can be accounted for by the fantastic popularity of fantasy football and by the fact that football's bang-bang moving violence meshes so perfectly with the video games that young men love.

Baseball is a game of hand-eye coordination, an exercise in craft, and when it reigned, we were a nation that built things. In movies then, heroes nimbly rode horses, and sophisticated private eyes figured stuff out. Football is, by comparison, a muscle-leg game. In concert, today, on movie screens, speed and car crashes rule.

We must always be very careful in trying to relate any country's taste in sport to its national temperament. After all, the most varied of cultures all prefer soccer. But still, America's increased devotion to football must mean something.

Unlike our two other home-bred sports, baseball and basketball, which have developed appeal in many other countries, American football is just that –– American. Except for a bit over our northern border, in all the world it is played seriously only in the United States. That we alone love this sport so much and love it more and more — that must tell us something about ourselves.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

A Compelling Plot Gives Way To Farce In Franzen's Purity

The new novel reveals sharp observations and a great, sprawling story. But critic Roxane Gay says the book gets bogged down with absurdly-drawn characters and misfired critiques of modern life.
NPR

Huge Fish Farm Planned Near San Diego Aims To Fix Seafood Imbalance

The aquaculture project would be the same size as New York's Central Park and produce 11 million pounds of yellowtail and sea bass each year. But some people see it as an aquatic "factory farm."
WAMU 88.5

Europe's Ongoing Migrant And Refugee Crisis And The Future Of Open Borders

The Austria-Hungary border has become the latest pressure point in Europe's ongoing migrant crisis. An update on the huge influx of migrants and refugees from the Middle East and Africa and the future of open borders within the E.U.

WAMU 88.5

Environmental Outlook: How to Build Smarter Transportation And More Livable Cities

A new report says the traffic in the U.S. is the worst it has been in years. Yet, some urban transportation experts say there's reason to be optimistic. They point to revitalized city centers, emerging technology and the investment in alternative methods of transportation. A conversation about how we get around today, and might get around tomorrow.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.