T Nation

Why Americans Love Football


I've been teaching high school football players for 25 years. As a group, they are the finest, most hard working and dedicated young men of all those I've taught. The values instilled by this magnificent team sport carry over into their lives. No, they're not perfect and yes, once in a while, you get a bum, but by far, these young men are the finest.

I believe that Americans love football because it brings out the best in us. It teaches us to love a challenge, to work harder and then even harder. It raises the human spirit to new heights.

During WWII, General of the Army George Marshall, when confronted with a daunting assignment to give one of his generals, would say: "Get me a West Point football player!". He knew that these are the men who get things done.

This spirit is also a big reason why the rest of the world reproaches us. They interpret spirit as arrogance. They think that people who actually fight evil are in themselves evil. They secretly see the American dedication to creating a just and lawful world as a reproach upon themselves, upon their cowardice and lack of spirit. They hide in their decaying Old World, amidst their rot and lethargy and curse those who face challenges. They play soccer.

Football is uniquely American. It is a sport played by those who don't back down from challenges. It is played by those who are unafraid. It is ours.

"I'd rather play on a losing football team than a winning soccer team."
--- Bobby Hill
from 'King of the Hill'



American football is sissified rugby. If you think it makes you a patriotic American to love a girl's game and hate soccer, bully for you. I love football as much as you do, but as a cultural barometer, it's vastly overrated.


Worst. Post. Ever.

I love how you equate the being cowards with playing soccer. Your powers of deductive reasoning are startling.

I love American football a lot and have my whole life... but to paint your average football player as a model citizen is hilarious. Go scan a few D-1 programs and then tell me they represent the best among us.

You make them sound the equivalent of Army Rangers who put their lives on the line for our country... when their just playing a damn game. A good game, mind you, but just a game.

If you could only be funny, maybe your posts would be worth something... anything.


Wouldn't this be true of any sport?

My love of American football is second to none, but this post was absolute nonsense.

Oh, and as for the twerp that stated that football is sissified rugby - more rubbish.


wait, isnt it rugby that girls plays, not american football?

girls dont break nails in rugby :wink:


I'm choking on the vast display of TSB contained within this thread.


The football v soccer debate will be solved right after the raw v gear controversy.

The Secret of American Foreign Affairs

By Stanley K. Ridgley, Ph.D.

April 29, 2003

During his administration, Bill Clinton cut the United States Army from 18 active divisions to 10 and presided over an aimless "Blackhawk Down" foreign policy. How, then, could the U.S. military remain so formidable as to conquer Iraq, a nation of 24 million people, in three weeks?

A larger question is how does our military continue to outstrip the rest of the world in every category, from soldier training to leadership to the will to win? The answer to that question is one of the great secrets of American foreign affairs.

There is one primary reason for the rise of U.S. military power over the past century and its overwhelming capability to fight and win wars: American football.

Decried by some as a simple-minded sport that "glorifies" violence and appeals to the blue-collar, beer-bellied crowd, football is a phenomenon woven into America's social fabric and into the psyche of her people.

The United States is a football nation - football players and football fans - and this sociological factor sets Americans apart from every other nation on earth.

American football is a brutal collision sport in which every player's mettle is tested on every play. At its supreme level, the mutual human violence done in football is greater than that of any other sport in the world.

The only other sport that approaches football in bone-crunching controlled mayhem is rugby, another Anglo-Saxon game played almost exclusively by the British and Australians. Coincidentally, they were the two major powers providing ground troops for the war in Iraq.

Football is violent, but it is not aimless violence. Each individual collision is a tightly circumscribed competition that measures each man's heart, drive, intellect, skill and cunning.

On both sides of the ball, strategy and counterstrategy - the multiplicity of options on a single play - contrive to create an intricate and sophisticated contest. Football is as cerebral as it is violent.

The only people who cannot comprehend football's sophistication are snobs who would like nothing better than to believe that these slashing wide receivers and great gridiron behemoths smashing into each other are dumber than they are. What a devastating ego shock to realize that the average college professor would be incapable mentally, as well as physically, to play successfully the modern game of football.

Why incapable? Because a working intellect under intense psychological pressure and physical exhaustion is an entirely different quality than a working intellect languishing in the library.

Players must execute a sophisticated battle plan swiftly, decisively and flawlessly in extreme situations, while a similarly equipped and talented group of athletes is doing its best to stop them. Play after play, there is no room for error.

In football, there is no time for still more "resolutions." The threat must be perceived and evaluated and the correct decision made now or the consequences could be ignominious defeat. The ethos of football and its prerequisite talents, attitudes and qualities are inculcated in abundance in America's military leaders.

While the football ethos is reflected in America's national spirit and her military, the Europeans draw from a distinctly different sports tradition; one developed on the playing fields of Paris and Potsdam, Boulogne and Berlin.

The ethos of what Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld called "Old Europe" is exemplified in the game of soccer.

Soccer is a beautiful and well-powdered sport, much like "diplomacy," bringing to mind men in top hats and striped pants walking herky-jerky, as in black-and-white silent newsreels. Soccer is French jeu d'esprit , and it is the sport of the United Nations.

Soccer rules are easily understood, and the sport is imbued with a comradely egalitarian aspect. Players run about. They wave their arms. Sometimes, they fall down. Sometimes, they can even be tripped, and it is in these moments that Europeans first learn to be either bad actors or diplomats; tumbling on the turf, clutching a "bruised" shin, then bounding up unhurt to take a free kick (or a post-war oil concession.)

Soccer matches can and frequently do end in a tie. This abundance of scoreless ties leads one to suspect that for soccer players, as for U.N. diplomats, the goal is to stall until ultimately nothing is resolved, and no one can really be blamed. Tie-breaking "shootouts" in international play ought to be eliminated altogether, since an egalitarian draw of no winner, no loser, and no hurt feelings is a U.N. dream come true.

The activity, in the end, is pointless. But fans will neither despair nor rejoice at the outcome; aficionados in smoky salons, sipping espresso, can debate endlessly who played the better game.

Is it any wonder that the Old European nations shrink from decisive action, taking only tentative, mincing steps, hoping they'll never have to fight for anything and unable to decide firmly whether there is anything at all worth fighting for?

Consider also what American football is not . It is not about passing the buck, walking while others carry the load or debating until you are overcome by events. Nor is it about ennui, languor and the c'est la vie attitude.

Football is about character and courage, might and mettle, decisiveness, strength and stamina. It is about men who sacrifice, who dare great things and who are not afraid to win great victories.

Hundreds of thousands of American boys and young men play football each year, forging a distinctly American character in the fire of competition. This character is reflected in the American military and its successes.

I am not the first to claim more from sport than might be deserved. Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington, supposedly credited his victory over Napoleon at Waterloo to his having been schooled on the "playing fields of Eton," his famous alma mater. So mightn't there be substance here?

Perhaps. American football might not be the great secret of American foreign affairs success of the past 100 years, but it does capture much that is true about the United States and her mettle. And surely, it is one small part of why she is great.

Reprinted by permission of the author.

Stanley K. Ridgley is president of the Russian-American Institute. He served for eight years as executive director of the Collegiate Network, a national association of college newspapers, and for nine years as the editor of CAMPUS: America's Student Magazine.

His articles have appeared in Heterodoxy , the University Bookman , the Charlotte Observer , the Raleigh News and Observer ,ORBIS foreign policy journal, and Charlotte Magazine , among others. In 1989, he founded the Duke Review , a conservative student newspaper at Duke University which still publishes.

Dr. Ridgley holds a doctorate in political science from Duke University and a bachelor's in journalism from the University of North Carolina, and is a former military intelligence officer. He is the author of "Start the Presses - A Handbook for Student Journalists." He told me that actually he enjoys playing soccer, but, "Soccer's a 'jogging man's' sport and a sport for overprotective mothers who want to shield their young men from injury. I find soccer to be a robust metaphor for European foreign policy. "


U-S-A U-S-A U-S-A!


The two great American sports in contrast, courtesy of George Carlin:

"Football is technological. Baseball is pastoral. Football is played in a stadium. Baseball in played in a park. Football is played on an enclosed grid, and every field is the same. Baseball is played on an ever-widening field with boundaries that reach to infinity, and every park has different dimensions. Football is played in a helmet; in baseball they wear a cap. Football has a two minute warning. Baseball has the seventh inning stretch. Football is rigidly timed. Baseball has no time limit--we don't know when it's going to end. Football ties go to sudden death; baseball ties go into extra innings. In football, you have blocking, hitting, clipping, kicking, the blitz, the bomb. In baseball you have the sacrifice. In football the object is to march into enemy territory and cross his goal. In baseball the object is to go home."

Or, as was much more succinctly stated in Bloom County,

"Men, football is war. God help me, I love it so!"


Good post!


Name-calling instead of backing up your statements. Cute. I guess I should do the same for myself.

Football: 60 minutes.
Rugby: 80 minutes.

Football: covered in plastic and rubber from head to toes.
Rugby: plastic is forbidden.

Football: 4 quarters. 15-minute halftime.
Rugby: 2 halves. 10-minute halftime.

Football: play starts and stops in 15 seconds at most.
Rugby: play is nonstop for minutes at time.

Football: field goals are kicked from the center of the field.
Rugby: penalty kicks and kick-after-tries can be taken from anywhere, so sometimes you have to walk back from the spot of possession just to get a better angle.

Football: downfield blocking.
Rugby: you're not allowed to hide behind your teammates like a wuss when you're carrying the ball.

Football: just running into the end zone is good enough for a touchdown.
Rugby: you have to touch the ball down in the try zone. If you drop the ball or if the opponent holds you up so you can't touch it down, tough shit.

Football: you get penaltized for excessive celebration, "unsportsmanlike conduct".
Rugby: it's almost always the case that the players are just too damn tired to celebrate after a try or a good kick.

Football: after you score, you have to kick the ball away.
Rugby: after you score, your opponent kicks the ball back to you.

Football: offensive and defensive units, 45 or so player in a single team.
Rugby: 15 players both ways, only 22 players in a single team.

At least American football has better cheerleaders than rugby. Good on you, mates.


Go All Blacks!

Rugby is the shit, but I don't mind watching the Edmonton Eskimos (CFL) play... laugh if you want. All of the games are on TV this year, apparently.


your the master of plagerism as has been pointed out in this thread.
In addition whats with all this 'our military rules the world' bull shit.
You ask your friends in the Gulf who the bad asses are. If you have any friends.

Your shit at soccer, you have no coordination. Your girlfriend told me so.

I fucking hate the all blacks too.

Fuck you all.


What a load of bollocks; all sports good. Apart from,.... darts, but then I guess if I was good at it.....


with all due respect id like to point out 2 things.

One - the level of football and Rugby you have played are likely to be miles apart i.e a good standard of football and a not so good standard of rugby.

two - HH is a tit, all his threads are meaningless, he has no coordination and is shit at soccer. This is fact.


You're right -- a lot of Europeans look at football and assume that you don't have to be tough just because there are pads. Unless you've played football, you have no idea how physical it is.


Football and Rugby can't be compared. They are completely different.

Football has a jacked up 300 pound man running full speed at you, you know you're gonna get leveled, stand, deliver the ball to the reciever, eat the hit, and get back up the next play to do it again.

Football is knowing that every play, might be your last play. Every day you know you may never step back out to play again, and to give it 100% of what you have.

Football is 16 games. Every game counts. You lay it on the line each and every time.

It is a game for warriors. Americans are warriors. Plain and simple.

Lets not look at the NFL players. Lets look at the lower levels. High School kids train, diet, workout year round for a shot to wear a uniform, or play in one game. I have seen six year olds working out for ankle biter leagues in their front yards in 100 degree heat, because they WANT to start. Young men will pay for college, then walk on and play football, just to say they were ON the team. This is the dedication and drive and American Spirit that HH was talking about. Football in its purest form.


I played football from 7or 8 yrs. of age, until i started racing motorcycles in my teens .I encourage my children to do sports that arent team sports,because nowdays in the area i live in team sports are to political.The local schools teams suck because the first string kids are the ones who's families either own the business's intown or their parents grew up with the coaches or are the teachers kids.They are not interested in putting the best kids on the field or court to play.I have noticed this in the girls and boys sports from basketball to football.Then they wonder why people complain when they lose all the time.


It's retarded to argue over which is the "better" sport.

However, you can judge whether football or rugby is more violent, but the above is the only way. You have to have played both.

I do know that football hurts worse with pads on. Seriously.


Ok i greatly appreciate your football. Im not going to rubbish it as i actually like to watch the odd game but come on - Have you just been watching any given sunday or something?
Full marks for enthusiasm though.