For a long time, I’ve been saying that I should do a Sports for Nerds series of blog posts. I’ve always thought that there’s a certain sort of sadness in the way that the nerdy dismiss sports; being ignorant about sports is paraded around as a badge of honor, while others are chastised for their ignorance on nerds’ favorite topics.
The biggest reason to at least understand the basics of a sport is that professional sports is the great equalizer between all sorts of people—differences melt away within the context of professional sports. Benjamin Mako Hill covers this aspect of sports way better than I could—his “Cultivated Disinterest in Professional Sports” is a staple of my “this is why you should at least understand sports a little” arguments.
Sports fandom does have its ugly side—not all fans are good people, and its inherent tribalism can lead to gruesome violence (the Brazilian referee who was beheaded was a particularly ugly incident). Still, this is no reason to dismiss sports fandom in its entirety—were we to thumb our noses at entire fandoms based on the actions of the few, we’d be left with so few acceptable hobbies as to be hopelessly bored.
My plan with this series is to start with gridiron football, more commonly known as American football. It’s the sport with which I’m most familiar, and it’s one that is dismissed by a lot of people as pure mindless violence. While hard physical play is certainly an aspect of the game, for many players on the field, the game is just as mental (if not more so) as it is physical.
My hope is to start with the basic rules of the game: the # of players, the size of the field, the basic procedural aspects (that is, how the game proceeds), etc. From there, we’ll get into more of the mental aspects of the game—reading formations, formation adjustments, coaching adjustments, etc.
If you’re someone who considers themselves knowledgeable about football and wouldn’t mind being a reviewer for upcoming articles, reach out to me, either via the comments, or via Twitter. I’d be happy to send you draft copies and incorporate feedback.