Why American Football Is Stupid

Why American Football Is Stupid

Commentary on a game from someone who doesn't know the rules
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On Nov. 21, I went to see the Penn State Nittany Lions play a game of football against the University of Michigan Wolverines.

I'm not really the kind of person that cares at all about sports. For the past two years, I've gotten obsessed with soccer during the World Cup (I'm still supporting Tim Howard as Secretary of Defense), but that's basically the extent of my experience with sports, professional or otherwise.

So why was I at the game? A friend of mine was able to get the tickets for cheap, and I'd never watched a football game, whether on TV or in person, so I figured it'd be an interesting experience. And it was. I had a ton of fun. But I realized one thing: American football makes absolutely no sense.

Now, I'm not saying that football is totally illogical. I acknowledge that it has a complex rule structure. What I'm saying is that those rules are opaque to outsiders like me, which make many of the actions taken by the players feel arbitrary.

Let's start with what feels the most arbitrary to me: the point values. Your favorite player just got the ball into the end zone. Quick: how many points was that worth?

Well, it depends on how the player got it there. Did he get a touchdown? Six points. Or did he kick it between the posts for a field goal? Three points. On top of that, players are allowed to try for an extra point or two after a touchdown, because why-the-hell-not.

Now, of course, you could say "Well, of course touchdowns are worth more than field goals, since they're harder to get." But that doesn't really address my criticism. Why six points? It just feels as though it were randomly selected.

I contrast the scoring system with soccer. In soccer, you score one goal, you get one point, because you did one thing. In American football, you score one touchdown, you get six points. WHY?

And then why does everything stop so much? A football game puts an hour on the clock, but then takes four hours to actually run the time down. Contrast this to soccer, for which 90 minutes typically lasts for around two hours. And then there's baseball, which at least has the decency to admit that it has no idea how long nine innings will last.

To an outsider like me, it felt like the players just needed to take a couple minute break after doing...just about anything.

It was all sort of a surreal experience. I was surrounded by literally 107 thousand other people, and it felt like every single one of them intimately understood what made zero sense in front of me.

They knew what plays were good, what plays were bad. They knew when to cheer, when to boo, and the words to all the chants.

I knew none of that. And that's what made the whole experience so interesting to me. For about four hours, I was totally immersed in a culture that I am in no way a part of. It was uncomfortable, but fascinating.

But the game still makes no goddamn sense.

Cover Image Credit: Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

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The Coach That Killed My Passion

An open letter to the coach that made me hate a sport I once loved.
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I fell in love with the game in second grade. I lived for every practice and every game. I lived for the countless hours in the gym or my driveway perfecting every shot, every pass and every move I could think of. Every night after dinner, I would go shoot and would not allow myself to go inside until I hit a hundred shots. I had a desire to play, to get better and to be the best basketball player I could possibly be.

I had many coaches between church leagues, rec leagues, personal coaches, basketball camps, middle school and high school. Most of the coaches I had the opportunity to play for had a passion for the game like I did. They inspired me to never stop working. They would tell me I had a natural ability. I took pride in knowing that I worked hard and I took pride in the compliments that I got from my coaches and other parents. I always looked forward to the drills and, believe it or not, I even looked forward to the running. These coaches had a desire to teach, and I had a desire to learn through every good and bad thing that happened during many seasons. Thank you to the coaches that coached and supported me through the years.

SEE ALSO: My Regrets From My Time As A College Softball Player

Along with the good coaches, are a few bad coaches. These are the coaches that focused on favorites instead of the good of the entire team. I had coaches that no matter how hard I worked, it would never be good enough for them. I had coaches that would take insults too far on the court and in the classroom.

I had coaches that killed my passion and love for the game of basketball.

When a passion dies, it is quite possibly the most heartbreaking thing ever. A desire you once had to play every second of the day is gone; it turns into dreading every practice and game. It turns into leaving every game with earphones in so other parents don't talk to you about it. It meant dreading school the next day due to everyone talking about the previous game. My passion was destroyed when a coach looked at me in the eyes and said, "You could go to any other school and start varsity, but you just can't play for me."

SEE ALSO: Should College Athletes Be Limited To One Sport?

Looking back now at the amount of tears shed after practices and games, I just want to say to this coach: Making me feel bad about myself doesn't make me want to play and work hard for you, whether in the classroom or on the court. Telling me that, "Hard work always pays off" and not keeping that word doesn't make me want to work hard either. I spent every minute of the day focusing on making sure you didn't see the pain that I felt, and all of my energy was put towards that fake smile when I said I was OK with how you treated me. There are not words for the feeling I got when parents of teammates asked why I didn't play more or why I got pulled after one mistake; I simply didn't have an answer. The way you made me feel about myself and my ability to play ball made me hate myself; not only did you make me doubt my ability to play, you turned my teammates against me to where they didn't trust my abilities. I would not wish the pain you caused me on my greatest enemy. I pray that one day, eventually, when all of your players quit coming back that you realize that it isn't all about winning records. It’s about the players. You can have winning records without a good coach if you have a good team, but you won’t have a team if you can't treat players with the respect they deserve.

SEE ALSO: To The Little Girl Picking Up A Basketball For The First Time


Cover Image Credit: Equality Charter School

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Towson Swimming And Diving's Relationship With The Special Olympics Is So Important

Supporting such a great foundation has been an incredible experience.

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It is evident that people with an intellectual disability face a difficult, uphill battle to achieve acceptance and other benefits of society that most people take for granted. The Special Olympics is such an important tool for these people, which I have recently had the privilege to learn first hand.

Each year, the Towson swim and dive team helps coach and work personally with a Special Olympics program. We set aside a Saturday morning after practice each month to work with local Special Olympians in the pool. This consists of providing them with practice and helping them complete it to the best of their ability.

Through doing this, I have met so many lovely, genuine people.

Our team coming together to support such an important foundation is truly the best feeling. It is incredibly moving to not only meet the athletes, but actually get to know them. We spend so much time talking and working with these Special Olympic athletes on how to get better, and it makes the meet hosted for them at the end of their season even more heartwarming for us to witness.

This past weekend, our team hosted and competed against Drexel University's swim and dive team. We had a break during the meet to bring in all of our Special Olympians to each race in one event of their choice. From the moment all of them walked onto the pool deck, the joy they brought was naturally contagious. There is just something so sincere about each of these Special Olympians' smiles that when all of them were together sharing the spotlight, the place was radiating positivity. It made me realize that everyone was there to simply celebrate the ability of these people, instead of focus on disability.

The opportunity to help Special Olympians become better at the sport I love made me realize so much. After high school, most Special Olympic athletes do not get the opportunity to compete anymore on teams or individually as I do, which is why unified sports events are so crucial. Teaching these Special Olympic athletes how to compete and seeing how excited they could be reminded me to enjoy the competition I am so lucky to be surrounded with.

The image of our home pool exploding with joy and energy for these Special Olympians who were so proud to be competing in a race is forever engrained in my mind.

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