Tom Stangl

Are you ready for some football?

Yes, we are in the second week of August and I can just about see the playing field from here.

High school teams are practicing, training camps are open in the NFL and even the Canadian Football League is back in business, playing their first games of the season last weekend.

Even with the coronavirus bubbling up here and there, it’s good to see teams out practicing and hopefully more fans will be able to attend games in person this fall.

Football has always been my “go to” sport. I found it easier to learn and play as a child and have followed teams and players throughout my life. 

I think team sports are another way humans like to divide into tribes. We find a team we identify with, buy items with their colors and logos and look for other members of our tribe. We gather in person or virtually to discuss our team, its players and coaches. We micromanage the team, obsess over officiating and the quality of opponents — no detail is too small to discuss.

The opponents. The enemy. Nearly every team has a natural rival, the colors and people you love to hate. If you’re a fan, you have a mental image of them right now. Hating the rival team is supposed to be a civilized way of avoiding general warfare and violence in the streets. Back in the day, cities and countries could and did find ways to fight. In the past century or so we have supposedly become more civilized and relegated tribal aggression to team sports.

That’s the theory.

Comedian George Carlin did a wonderful bit about the differences between baseball and football.

“Baseball is played on a diamond, in a park. The baseball park! Football is played on a gridiron, in a stadium, sometimes called Soldier Field or War Memorial Stadium.

“Baseball begins in the spring, the season of new life. Football begins in the fall, when everything’s dying.

“Football is concerned with downs - what down is it? Baseball is concerned with ups - who’s up?

“In football you receive a penalty. In baseball you make an error.

“Football is played in any kind of weather: rain, snow, sleet, hail, fog... In baseball, if it rains, we don’t go out to play.

“Baseball has no time limit: we don’t know when it’s gonna end - might have extra innings. Football is rigidly timed, and it will end even if we’ve got to go to sudden death.

“And finally, the objectives of the two games are completely different: In football the object is for the quarterback, also known as the field general, to be on target with his aerial assault, riddling the defense by hitting his receivers with deadly accuracy in spite of the blitz, even if he has to use a shotgun. With short bullet passes and long bombs, he marches his troops into enemy territory, balancing this aerial assault with a sustained ground attack that punches holes in the forward wall of the enemy’s defensive line. In baseball the object is to go home! And to be safe! - I hope I’ll be safe at home!”

No one could make you think like George Carlin. I miss him.

I hope your team doesn’t break your heart too many times this season. 

As always, I welcome your comments. You can reach me by email at tstangl@theameryfreepress.com, telephone 715-268-8101 or write me at P.O. Box 424, Amery, WI, 54001.

Thanks for reading. I’ll keep in touch. Feel free to do the same. 

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