To the mighty go the details
Hello proud members of the community, I am having a real hard time with the NFL this season. Not this kind of football hard, but nonetheless something worth keeping a beady eye on.
There are certain elements of the NFL that have a truly universal appeal, regardless of whatever bias or politics one confronts them with. The urgency—not the hormonal rage of the fans, but the formal concision of the schedule—is simply electric. NFL Films hasn’t invented this way of reading the game; they’ve simply recognized that it’s one of professional football’s most arresting properties. What’s more, it’s impossible to escape the feeling that meaning is being generated before your very eyes; a team’s season has no choice but to turn out as some kind of parable, or to lend itself to the kind of unambiguous milestones that birth grand narrative. If the NBA traffics in extravagant blurs, the NFL seeks to forge a gospel of thunderous answers.
Notwithstanding all that is conservative, centralized, drab, uninventive, brute, macho, and absurd about the current-day of the National Football League, I once found it in me every week to watch to the point of distraction. While I am sure that many of FreeDarko’s occasional readers barely consider me a basketball fan, I have no problems that I take in football like a person generally void of sports acumen. It goes well with autumn and winter, takes the edge off of Sunday jitters like a male Grey’s Anatomy (fuck that shift in time-slot, by the way), and just generally proves that competitive sports can be enjoyed primarily as ritual and connotation. Yes, I know that baseball’s kept itself breathing off of this same formula, and college football uses it to build cults. The NFL, though, makes it easy and uncontrived, accessible in all its brightness whether or not you’ve been invited.
Yet this time around, the tension between my over-developed NBA worldview and capacity to watch the NFL like a middle-aged woman is finally getting to me. That my two fantasy teams are "upset" every week isn't helping, but the main thorn upon me is that I just can't bring myself to wander through a sport with willful blindness. On a very basic level, football doesn't make sense to me and, perhaps more significantly, doesn't interest me. The entire extended metaphor I've built to find my way through the field of fandom plain and simple does not compute on NFL-turf. We all know the basic conflicts but even something as supposedly universal as "catching fire" works very little with football, where the team organism's production overrides any individual's linear growth. Same goes for the function of the star, the primacy of the starter, and the total decentralization of player contribution.
At this point, though, even the rant brings me no relief. This is not a battle of ideas; instead, I worry that I might be suffering through the death of the everyday.