The slow trickle of trunks and suitcases onto campus is complete. Classes have officially begun.
Back into our lives are lectures, homework, projects, labs, exams, grades — all the stuff we pay frightening amounts of money to stress out over and complain about.
Luckily, we can take solace in one thing. (Other than, I guess, being fortunate enough to receive an education. And hot water and cooked food and medicine and the internet and airplanes and probably one or two other things.) The end of summer means the start of a new season. Football season.
The NFL is back. There will be nonstop video of oversized, sweaty men running into each other on TV every Sunday from 1 pm ‘til midnight. Any angle you might, conceivably, one day care about will be covered: from advanced statistical studies on whether it’s better to run left or right on kick returns, to three-minute videos of men in suits discussing which 20-something-year-old wide receiver is going to earn you an extra 2.5 fantasy points, to breaking reports on obscure team blogs detailing which practice squad player unlikely to ever play a snap in the NFL was just waived.
Thank the lord: the NFL is back.
If the NFL is Kanye, the NBA, MLB, and NHL are French Montana, Schoolboy Q, and YG. They’re big. But they do not exist in the same stratosphere as Kanye.
Maybe you check your baseball team’s box score in the paper most mornings. Maybe you tune in to watch the NBA Eastern Conference Finals on ABC. Maybe you watch a few NHL playoff games if your team makes the cut.
Football’s not consumed like that, because football is all consuming. Football is not content to exist as background noise. Football insists on taking over your TV every Sunday. Throw in Monday and Thursday nights too, because it’s not enough to own one of every seven days. And still, it’s not done. Every free moment is a perfect time for the action to be dissected, until there’s nothing left but a heap of exhausted storylines. Finally the next Sunday arrives, and the process can begin again.
Do you know what the projected revenue for the NFL is this year? 9 billion dollars. Do you know what the over/under for number of minutes I will devote to some NFL-related activity per week this year is? Between setting my fantasy lineup, making my pick’em picks, choosing my survivor team, reading some articles, viewing a couple of videos, listening to a few podcasts, and oh yeah, watching the games … disturbingly high, that’s the over/under.
So, why? Why all of this? Why any of this?
It’s not something I think about very often. It’s always just been that way. But take a step back, and there’s really only one word to describe it. Absurd.
Completely, utterly, absurd.
Does it make sense that a massive industry is built on watching grown men jump on each other?
Does it make sense that fans actually feel bad when teams comprised of a bunch of guys they don’t know lose a game?
Does it make sense that the media covers all of this in firm, objective, humorless journalist voices that would be appropriate for a reporter on the ground in Iraq?
No, no, and no. And while these things are true of other sports, none comes close to the heights of absurdity reached by the all-powerful National Football League.
That, really, is the elephant in the living room every Sunday. No one wants to feel like what he’s doing is absurd. Because absurd means pointless, and pointless means wasteful.
It’s probably true. If I didn’t spend so much time consuming football, maybe I could be making the world a better place. Volunteer at a soup kitchen or do homework or read novels.
Then again, don’t I already spend enough time taking myself seriously? Isn’t there some value in telling the rational, little dictator inside of me to shut up every once in a while? And really, what isn’t ridiculous, when you think about it for long enough?
It’s absurd. A distraction. But at least it’s an enjoyable distraction. It lightens people up. And what’s so dumb about that?
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