Saturday, January 3, 2009

I Hate Football

December 7, 2008

Maybe that's too strong of a statement. Maybe not.

In the early 90s I devoured football, as did my dad. Of course, he's the reason I watched at all. I loved Joe Montana and Jerry Rice. We hated Dan Marino. Dad called him a fag when I was young, because of those, like, driving glove commercials I think they were. I begged for a helmet and pads, a jersey. Anything. When Dad and I threw a ball in the yard, I realized that the football didn't fit my hand so well. I couldn't throw it like I could a softball and it was then I decided I was a wide receiver. We also hated the Cowboys.

This weekend I've watched more football than I have since I was 16. There's a reason. It's called rugby.

No, I should go back a little bit. My senior year of high, my junior year of high school there was a petition sent around who would play football if we had a football team? I signed. People laughed at me, like I was kidding, like ha you're a girl, that's funny. But I meant it. I didn't think we'd really get a team though.

But we did. I didn't try out though. I was too busy with softball, trying to get scholarships. No, that's not true, either. I knew I had scholarships, but I was in love for the first time and my parents hated me and I hated them and that story you've heard a thousand times. I had nearly made up my mind to move to Houston (a college with no softball team) to be with Lacey. I couldn't pull myself away from softball to try out for the football team.I had played softball since I was 5. It was my identity. And how horrible would it have been to be a lesbian AND playing football? I would've made the team. I was fast and I could catch a ball and take a hit. That's what I told myself.

So, I moved to Houston and didn't take any of those scholarships, and my dad cried. And I cried, too.

But rugby found me only a few months after having moved there. I worked with a six feet tall woman who played. After I asked what the hell kinda sport was that, she invited me to practice. I wasn't hooked immediately because I wasn't good. I wasn't good because the sport is completely foreign to any American. Especially Americans who watch football.

If you don't play rugby, this is what you know about it: It's kinda like soccer and football mixed. Well that's more wrong than it is right. Rugby is like rugby.

Here's a quick lesson in rugby:

1. You can't pass forward. Only laterally and backwards. (you're thinking, "how the hell do you ever gain yardage?" well, it's not called yardage, for one, and for two, it works, trust me)

2. You can kick the ball to move it forward.

3. After a tackle the ball is still live. (very unlike football)

I guess number 3 is the reason I can't stand to watch football anymore. In football, the ball is thrown or passed off behind the line of the way, "scrimmage" comes from the rugby term "scrummage"... after that the person runs until he's tackled.

And, jesus, are people proud of themselves when they tackle someone. They pound their chests, do stupid dances, hit their helmets like they're really something.

In rugby, you tackle someone, they release the ball, and someone else grabs it and runs with it. If a rugby player beat her chest for every tackle,she'd look like an asshole. Just like football players.

The same with touchdowns (which are called "trys" in rugby.) In rugby, a try is scored by touching the ball to the ground in what football players know as the end zone. A football touch down can be scored by breaking the plane of the end zone. Did you notice that the term "touch down" comes from rugby? If you see a rugby player running toward the uprights you'll hear the team screaming, "Touch it down!" So, there ya go.

When football players score a touch down, again, the cocky dance. They throw the ball somewhere, wait for their teammates to get there and do some chest bumping. In rugby, if you score a try, good for you, but you couldn't have done it without the team. No one is singled out in rugby. You're supposed to tackle all the time, you're supposed to score. That's how you play the game.

And now, the padding. Football players wouldn't need the padding if they learned how to tackle. Over my weekend of football watching, I saw 3 wrap tackles. The rest...people just plowing into people with their heads. Throwing their whole bodies at people, just jumping at them. Maybe I forgot to tell you that rugby players don't wear padding. It looks uncomfortable and dangerous. Since we don't tackle like football players, we don't need all the padding.

So, what am I saying? I dunno. Football sucks. Play stops every few seconds, everyone's so arrogant when they do things they're supposed to do. It's boring. Yes, football is boring.

Football players are athletes you might say. Ok, they aren't in terrible shape, but I just saw some guy sucking on an oxygen tank on the sidelines today. Oh, and quarterbacks have a little play list on their forearms. How is it a sport anymore?

Now I know homeland security's gonna snatch me up for being un-American, but I ask you to give rugby a chance. Just take a peek at a few minutes of a youtube game or something.

So, let me finish by saying this: Rugby players are in better shape than football players and they're tougher. Put that in your oxygen tank and suck it.

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About Me

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Writer, teacher, and archaeologist. Contributing essayist in the anthology "Crooked Letter I: Coming Out In the South" from NewSouth Books.