The overlooked intricacy of a football game

Photo by Casey Gomez

Last December, pop scientist Neil DeGrasse Tyson claimed on Twitter, “[s]ometimes I wonder if we’d have flying cars by now had civilization spent a little less brain energy contemplating Football.”

Apart from the fact that we basically have flying cars (they are called helicopters or airplanes, depending on how you define the necessary elements of a ‘flying car’), Tyson’s comment struck me in its dismissal of sports as something worth contemplating.

I am the sports editor for the Technique, so it should come as no surprise that Tyson and
I disagree.

And it is not just because I think that you should read the sports section, whose merit
Tyson is not so subtly questioning; it is because I think we derive real value from following sports.

Sports are as pure a form of head-to-head competition as one can imagine. The playing field is literally evened.

No matter how considerable an advantage an individual or team has in athleticism, experience or any other characteristic, every football game starts with both teams tied, and every
tennis match begins at love-all.

There is something enchanting about that, especially in a world where we are consumed with arguments about who gets a head start in college admissions, justice and virtually every other facet of everyday life.

Sports are also critical to the foundation to identities. In Latin America, socioeconomic tensions are allayed by common interest in a soccer team.

Small towns across the country are bound by their love for high school football games. Watching Netflix’s Last Chance U is a particularly powerful reminder of this phenomenon; a community college can bring a community together. I spent the first three years of my life in Wisconsin, and the only remainder of that heritage I retain is my love of the Green Bay Packers. Introducing yourself as a fan of a team opens a world of compatriots and friendly

There is little gray area in sports; it is one of the few arenas in which we can allow ourselves to limit our view to black and white (off-field incidents like national anthem protests and domestic violence notwithstanding).

Maybe you disagree. Maybe you think that watching sports is nothing more than cheering on mistreated college students or millionaires as they do battle.

The winner gets a meaningless trophy. The loser is treated with vitriol. Both are given head trauma free of charge.

Yet while the games themselves may seem trivial, the concepts they represent and the doors they open are far more meaningful. And maybe it’s time we stopped belittling each other for what we enjoy doing in our free time and instead concentrate our efforts on something more meaningful — like criticizing Skip Bayless or making fun of Derrick Rose’s perpetual injuries.