Are You Ready|for Some Football?

     As the nation gears up for another season of NFL football, with college football already underway, it’s time to truly appreciate how intelligent the NFL has become in convincing tens of millions of people that their lives are essentially meaningless without physical brutality masquerading as substantive cultural pursuits.
     No doubt the nation’s pop culture radar will be humming tomorrow as hundreds of sportswriters, radio talk show host personalities, and anonymous bloggers try to convince you that your long, insufferable wait is over. You might be famished, dehydrated maybe, around 4:00 in the afternoon, but if you can just hold out for another four hours or so you can watch grown men in spandex and plastic run into each other repeatedly.
     You’ve waited all summer right? Or worse, since the last whistle of the Super Bowl (no matter how successful the NFL might be, it will never convince people to watch the Pro Bowl). You’ve been forced to spend time with your families on Sundays, be just a little bit more productive at work without a fantasy team to tinker with, and actually think of things to do on the weekends that might involve spending some time away from your living room.
     Look, I enjoy watching football. Aside from its massive popularity due in large part to the ease with which one can gamble on the game, it’s just entertaining to watch. Plus, it is the one sport that satisfies this nation’s seemingly insatiable ability to crave instant satisfaction since it features by far the shortest season of any major sport.
     What I don’t understand are the people who foam at the mouth about the return of football. The fact that the league saw increased television ratings for its preseason “games” this year is proof enough that people are willing to watch anything on a 100-yard field. Preseason football isn’t just bad, it’s flat-out atrocious and a downright scam perpetrated by the league on its own season-ticket holders (who are required to purchase, at full price, tickets for two preseason games each year in order to have the right to buy regular season tickets).
     Fantasy football has become so ridiculously over-the-top I don’t think anyone takes it seriously anymore. The league thinks enough people care about football in April to truly believe its first round draft coverage can compete against Thursday night television programming (I can’t wait to see how many people fall for that; I’ve watched the first round of the draft every year for the past seven years but refuse to adjust my weeknight habits just to see future wash-outs try on new ball caps).
     The NFL didn’t become what it is by being stupid. It became what it is today by being smart enough to dupe otherwise intelligent people into believing that their lives are something less without football. I don’t know how they do it, but I have to admire the savvy.

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