28 Yards Later

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Every year at Super Bowl time (they do have one every year, right?), I get this feeling like I could go on a looting rampage and no one would notice because the entire country is engrossed in a shared experience that I just dont comprehend. I’m not going to rail against football or sports in general here, because I’m sure most of you have at least a passing interest in an organized sportsmanship match… game, and I have no interest in alienating you all at once with my crotchety ramblin’s.

The point of this comic is not to say that I think all football fans are mindless zombies, but rather that Super Bowl season leaves me feeling completely isolated from the rest of country in a way that it very hard to explain. It’s like I’m the one Betazoid who’s telepathy never developed, so everyone around me is communicating without words and I have to use clumsy, fumbling language to try and get a point across. It’s especially hard for me in Texas. When someone asks you which team you are hoping will acquire the most points in the Super Bowl in order to win the match and you reply, “I don’t follow football,” you might as well be saying, “Sorry, my dick was chopped off in a combine accident and subsequently mixed with grain and fed to chickens. Because that’s all my dick’s good for. Chicken feed.”

I did attend a Superb Owl party hosted by Eli (check out his Shitty Movie Blog) and Denise (check out her Cooking Blog). I enjoyed the food and the company but didn’t really pay attention to the footballing. Even when I do turn my attention to the game, I have no idea what’s going on. There’s 45 seconds of what appears to be action then 12-42 minutes of people standing around talking while other people talking about the people standing around talking and speculate on who might get the most points and how they might do so. It’s me. I’m weird. I just don’t get it.

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74 Comments

    • "You see, football is the last refuge of the closeted homosexual man in America."

      Really, man? I don't think making insinuations on other people's sexuality is the way you want to go about things.
      I'm glad Joel didn't write his post the same way you did.

      • As an homosexual, I have to say football would be far more worthwhile if the players wore less. For that, I'd tune in. As it is, I know the Saints won, but I have no idea who they were even playing against.

      • On top of that, he forgot professional wrestling as a huge refuge for closet homosexuals… all I can say to the article is it's a blog opinion… free speech to be processed and discarded as a disgruntled opinion.

        I enjoy watching a good football game… I am gay (although being a bear, I'm apparently not as gay as I could be) but I find, like a Star Trek episode, if I don't start from the beginning and stay engaged all the way through, it's no where near as enjoyable. Games have better opportunities to get replays and such… but it's still playing catchup which removes you from the enjoyment.

        Football games contain elements of strategy, like a good chess game… which can have a level of engagement for the observer that ranges from "King Fisher Gambit of the Dutch Defense" for one person who's into the game to "He moved the little plastic peice… on the board" for someone "who just doesn't get it"

        It also contains emotional responses from anger when your favorite character is cheated or betrayed, (A bad call by the refs)… to Tension when the main character has one last chance to energize the transporter to save the life of his comerage who's falling to his doom (4th down and long, need a 6 points to win the game, 3 seconds on the clock). Perhaps you might enjoy the game more if it were translated into Star Trek metaphors 🙂

        That and like Star Trek, it's not a form of entertainment for everyone's interest… that's why every other special channel runs marathons of random shows to suite your tastes.

      • If you disagree with that assessment, I recommend that you NOT see Big Fan, starring Patton Oswalt.

        As for me…well, it's all about penetrating into your opponent's "end zone." It's prison rape with cheerleaders.

      • On top of that, he forgot professional wrestling as a huge refuge for closet homosexuals… all I can say to the article is it's a blog opinion… free speech to be processed and discarded as a disgruntled opinion.

        I enjoy watching a good football game… I am gay (although being a bear, I'm apparently not as gay as I could be) but I find, like a Star Trek episode, if I don't start from the beginning and stay engaged all the way through, it's no where near as enjoyable. Games have better opportunities to get replays and such… but it's still playing catchup which removes you from the enjoyment.

        Football games contain elements of strategy, like a good chess game… which can have a level of engagement for the observer that ranges from "King Fisher Gambit of the Dutch Defense" for one person who's into the game to "He moved the little plastic peice… on the board" for someone "who just doesn't get it"

        It also contains emotional responses from anger when your favorite character is cheated or betrayed, (A bad call by the refs)… to Tension when the main character has one last chance to energize the transporter to save the life of his comerage who's falling to his doom (4th down and long, need a 6 points to win the game, 3 seconds on the clock). Perhaps you might enjoy the game more if it were translated into Star Trek metaphors 🙂

        That and like Star Trek, it's not a form of entertainment for everyone's interest… that's why every other special channel runs marathons of random shows to suite your tastes.

  1. I went to Indian food with 5 friends.. we were the ONLY people in the restaurant… it was like that scene from Christmas Story except Indian guys instead of Chinese…

  2. You're not the only one who doesn't care. I got tired of seeing overpaid athletes whine how they aren't making enough money years ago, and they don't care. I'd rather watch high school or college ball where they're at least trying to play the game.

    You're absolutely right with the timing of the game. 4 minutes is more like 40. I'll watch some King of the Hill if I want to watch guys standing around talking.

  3. I never understood it either. For a long time I also thought I married the only heterosexual male in the state who didn't like it either. I have to endure him being "f-g" all season long because we just don't like it and when I finally went off on someone and asked about why not wanting to watch a bunch of big sweaty guys sniff each others bottoms and then jump all over each other I was told I was "pissing in the soup." I'm glad to be slowly discovering more and more people who just don't get it it either.

  4. I have no interest in football but the commercials are pretty good. A friend of mine once edited down a game to include only actual game play, no re-plays, no talking heads ect. It was 18 minutes long.

    • Anybody who says they watch the game for the commercials is lying. Thats what the Internet is for. Though I can't stand sits that make you sit through a commercial to watch a commercial, why are they not getting paid just for the one commercial? And on that note, why do you rarely see superball commercials outside of the superball? Its not like the film suddenly combusts or anything. They spent thousands on the commercial, why use it once?

  5. Football, American flavoured or UK, still serves an important role in educating our geek brothers and sisters. Picture this conversation,

    MOLEY: "Weasel, my non-geek friends get remarkably upset when I talk about Batman for over an hour at a time, or quote entire Monty Python sketches. I don't understand! These are cultural treasures that must be shared!!"

    WEASEL: "I agree with you, nothing is more awesome than Batman or Monty Python. We both accept this as universal truths. But, here's another way of looking at it – you know THAT GUY, the one that never shuts up about football, how great his team is, what new-player-that-sounds-like-an-Italian-sports-car they just payed the gross national product of Belgium to buy?"

    MOLEY: "Oh, THAT GUY. I f-ing hate THAT GUY."

    WEASEL: "You mean THAT GUY that never shuts up about football?"

    TONY: "Yeah, no matter how much I try to tell him about Batman… oh, hang on… OH GOD!"

    WEASEL: "My work here is done."

    So as through a glass and darkly
    The age long strife I see
    Where I fought in many guises,
    Many names — but always me.

  6. I actually put the game on and opened my book. I read during the game and watched the commercials. Every now and then I would look up when the commentator got really excited. I don't mind football. It can be fun to watch if you have something to root for or you are with a bunch of people who are excited–just to watch them spill their beer and yell at the TV…

  7. As an English girl, I must first point out that any ball game that has more than 50% of the gameplay of the ball being carried around the pitch is not football. It is handball. In a (proper) football match the only person allowed to touch the ball with their hand, on the pitch, is the goalkeeper. Sorry. Pedantic and insular, I know. But I think most football fans around the world will agree with me: The American game is much more like Rugby, but with padding.

    On a different note, awesome strip Joel. Love your city.

  8. For years, I made a game of trying not to learn who was even playing and then to see how long after the game I could go without learning who won. Even playing in my college's pep band, I had no clue what was going on and rarely paid attention to the field.

    Now I watch my team every Sunday even though they're one of the most frustrating teams to root for. There are at least five football columnists whose work I consume regularly. I picked up my first superstition: my team won't score until I make my special hot sauce and apply it either to wings or popcorn. The part of my brain that used to be devoted to knowing the names of guys in championship barbershop quartets is now devoted to football. And now I watch games even when they don't involve my team, and I make arbitrary decisions about which one to root for, often based on which uniform I like better. I was rooting for the Colts this year because they were kind enough to lay down and let the Bills win their last game of the season. The Saints clobbered the Bills in week 2.

    To echo something someone said above, drama is a key component of enjoying football. One never knows which sure thing in a given game will falter. "Any given Sunday" refers to this uncertainty. I always hate to hear that my team is favored . . . they always find a way to lose those games. Tell them that they have no chance and they'll fight to prove it wrong.

    Understanding a bit of what they're trying to do and how they can do it is also important. There really is a lot of information warfare going on, even when it looks like twenty-two men colliding into a pile for no apparent reason. There's a show on ESPN called NFL Matchup that reveals a layer of planning and strategy of that that's rarely evident from the game broadcasts later that day. Understanding roughly what the positions on the field are and what their roles are is also important. There are books, but Wikipedia is also helpful for that.

    So take pride in your alienation exactly as long as you want to. I know I did! But also know that if you decide to take up football fandom, there's a lot of opportunity for engaging the brain, even if most fans don't.

    • I've got a theory that all Bills fans must have a masochistic streak. I always feel slightly ashamed rooting for them, home team or not.

  9. i sometimes think while im reading the comments for your comments that i am the only pc owning non hippy on here. i watched the superbowl because there was free booze and free snacks and the game was actually quite good.

    it's weird, i enjoy your comics and yet i seem to be 100% different than the rest of your readers

    • dont worry about it. You are still quite welcome and as long as you enjoy the comics theres no reason to think twice about it. I am often shocked by some of the emails I get expressing complete poloar opposite opinions from what I would expect from my readers. There are more like you than you think. They just must not be as vocal.

    • Amen my brother. Sports (football and hockey) are huge in my house, and yet my TV time is split between ESPN and G4.

      I don't get some of the other comments on here, especially the "Football is the last refuge of the closeted homosexual man in America." crack from earlier in the comments. While I don't disagree that some gay men must like footbal, from a purely statisical viewpoint they have to, the statement reads like football=gay which can't be true. This kind of statement is a kin to saying men who enjoy theater have to be gay or that men who still read comics have to be virgins. It's highly disrespectful and sterotypical.

      Why can't people accept that someone may have a broad sphere of interests. My geek friends (trekies, comic collectors, theater nerds, ect.) are feaked when they figure out I love hockey, football, and MMA, and i get the same reaction when my jock friends figure out I'm into geek stuff.

      OK, rant over. Go Hawks.

      • I imagine it's the butt-patting and close physical contact in sports that people find to be homoerotic.

        That's quite different from saying that the players are gay, although as you point out, from a purely statistical standpoint, quite a few of them must be.

  10. I live in Chicago. I got so distracted/concerned about there not being any snow on the ground in early February, I had to read it again to figure out the football reference.

  11. Yeah I started watching football when I was like 13 and knew nothing about the game and just knew that my family and their friends liked it and I loved to watch Brett Favre play with school boy abandon and no regard for how a quarterback was "supposed to play". Slowly over time and many Greenbay Packer Football parties I became a student of the game and I have to admit the strategy, matchup, and all 11 players working together to execute a play facinates me. I also appreciate fantasy football as a way for me to challenge my mind to see if I can predict how the match-ups will play out.

  12. For the past couple years my wife has organized parties where we eat junk food and drink beer…and watch old musicals. This year it was "Victor/Victoria," which is about as anti-superbowl as you can get. Though I'm still lobbying to change it up with the occasional zombie flick or Brave And The Bold marathon.

  13. My parents are big, big Colts fans and I think I've inherited a lot of that. My boyfriend is also a Bears fan (but roots for the Colts as his second team), so I end up watching a lot of games anyway. We were pretty livid during the game (especially my dad, who was very close to breaking expensive objects… no kidding). That being said, if I don't have a dog in the fight, I don't really care. Last year I wasn't really paying attention.

    Now, what is this about another IT Crowd season???

  14. I fucking love football. I understand where you are coming from though. I don't care at all about baseball, or filling out a bracket when March Madness (college basketball tourney) comes around. Thanks for stating your opinion w/o hating. Go Hijinks Go!

  15. Love me some football (actually have a blog dedicated to it) and have always straddled the sports geek/other geek line. But as has been pointed out it's a very thin line.

    American football has a tremendous amount of strategy if you study it (which many people don't) and is fascinating to watch and frankly one of my favorite things to do (aside from complain how badly the last Dollhouse ep sucked and watch Shaun of the Dead endlessly).

    But I'm always aware of how it isn't for everyone and I think you captured the isolation perfectly in this comic Joel. It's like how I feel when American Idol comes up at work.

    Nice work. 🙂

  16. I cannot bear to watch any kind of spectator sport. Perhaps it's a reminder that I'm sitting on the sidelines watching other people DO something interesting. However, I don't get into discussions of comic book characters, either, or drawn-out analyses of movies (it is what it is, your experience of it is yours and different). I quite enjoy the honesty of this comic strip, however.

  17. football is where you kick the ball with the foot! into a square goal, with 11 players per team!

    what you refer to is "american" football, somehow the us-american people have their hands and feet confused..

  18. There was a comedian back in the 1980s (I think) who said that football combined the two worst aspects of American society: Short periods of extreme violence, separated by committee meetings.

    Me, I followed/played pretty much everything but football (including soccer, wrestling, track, baseball, softball, and my favorite, hockey).

  19. I don't really "get" football, but for my job i have to have a basic knowledge of the 4 major US sports. granted i'm a total baseball geek, but that's it when it comes to sports for me. Go Mets!!!!!

  20. I've never cared for sports myself really. As a burly southern male who's been in the Army and worked in construction for the last fifteen years its kind of expected for me to at least show interest, but the truth is if I'm not on the field, playing, there is no reason for me to care who wins. Its isn't that I'm not a team player, if I'm playing I will push to win. I just don't see the need to cheer on a team you aren't actively a part of. They get paid millions of dollars either way, so I'm pretty sure the games would go on as normal even if noone turned up to cheer. As long as the product endorsements continued to generate enough revenue anyway.

  21. I feel the same way. I follow no organized sport of any kind. If I'm ever in a position of being forced to watch something the only thing I ever look for is the time so I know how long I have before I can leave.

  22. Love the post apocalyptic feel to the stip – it's the same ghost town feeling in my city when the Grey Cup is on (Canadian football). It's a great sunday to go grocery shopping as there are no lines. My parents are both football fans, with season tickets, and having get togethers for Grey Cup and Superbowl., but it did not rub off on me. I loathe watching all sports – except sometimes tennis, and some olympic sports. Thankfully my husband is like me and would rather watch anything else.

  23. The wife and I go to a movie each year on Superbowl Sunday. Better to see an action movie — the romantic comedy “chick flicks” are relatively populated, but the action movie theatres are typically almost empty. Thanks to the snow, this is the first year we’ve missed in a long time.

  24. Joel you gotta try watching Rugby. its more of the action and less of the wankfest.
    that being said its still equally hard to know whats going on unless you know the game.
    Great Comic BTW

  25. I don't follow sports. I was never invited to play any when I was a kid (or got set up for failure when I did) so I just never developed any real interest. Video games are my sport of choice.

    But every now and then, when I do find myself caught in front of a sporting event (usually when others are in control of the television), I'll have them turn on the captions. It's very fascinating when you can hinge on every word that's being said.

  26. Yup, every once in a while I'll care about football, but it's not really my thing. I'm far more of a basketball fan myself- NBA or college, I can roll with both (I've even watched a few international games… not so much with the WNBA yet)!

  27. You have my sympathies Joel. Texas is basically ground zero for football fanaticism, it can't be easy being disinterested and living there. If you grew up there it must have been even worse!

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