Is Football a Daft American Cult of Cavemen?

Now that the whole Super Bowl hullabaloo is over and the silent majority can stop pretending to care about the sport until football parties kickoff again in some number of months (September? October? All I know is it comes too soon), let’s get real about America’s favorite pastime. I came upon an online contest in which people were asked to explain football to foreigners/Americans who don’t understand it. The lucky winner broke the ritual down into its component parts, revealing the little caveman in all of us. Or some of us.

Football is a redemption-themed encounter in which two teams representing competing tribes symbolically overcome adversity by possessing and attempting to return a holy egg to its sacred home while a third team in stripes enforces rules and inserts chaos.  It is played out over 100 yards, plus two ten yard sections of sacred zone.  Scoring is achieved by placing the egg on the sacred turf or by kicking it through a symbolic gate in spite of the other teams obstruction.  Each team gets four chances to matriculate the egg ten yards at a time.  If it fails after three, it can kick it to the other team.  Consumption of copious amounts of beer by observing clan members is optional.

—Rick Shuster,

Yes. The primal game—it’s significance so intuitive to its practitioners, so opaque to gentiles. I may never understand the magic that occurs when love for a 3 hour game with only 11 minutes of actual action combines with the power of arbitrary regional loyalty. But I will accept your free nachos at next year’s big game gathering. Go team! (Image:

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