Magazine article Newsweek

You're 100 Percent Wrong about Football; Put the Sport Back in the Oven until It's Done Cooking

Magazine article Newsweek

You're 100 Percent Wrong about Football; Put the Sport Back in the Oven until It's Done Cooking

Article excerpt

Byline: Elijah Wolfson

Those who love football--who really love it, who will actually watch every down of Super Bowl 50 and only dare to restock on nachos during the commercials--will defend it to their deaths. Yes, they will acknowledge, there's that pesky public health concern about concussions and chronic traumatic encephalopathy. And yes, the league's labor structure forces most of the players to risk their lives on the field without guaranteed contracts. But those are problems that can be ironed out, with, perhaps, a stronger players' union or rule changes to better protect the brain cases of receivers going over the middle. They are worth solving, these guardians of the shield will say, because of the beauty of the game.

They will point to the intricacy and military precision of American football: the 500-page playbooks, the chess matches of the offensive and defensive coordinators, the precision of the route running by the wide receivers and the strategic aptitude of the quarterbacks and middle linebackers.

But, really, football is an overwrought hodgepodge of rules, rituals and rationalizations for barely contained mayhem. Subjectivity and second-guessing are rampant: Referees have to pick out the spot of the ball--down to the inch--by untangling 2,000 pounds of human meat. Pass interference calls often require referees to be mind readers--was the defensive back looking at the ball in the air or was he watching the receiver's eyes? …

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