Picture the ideal game day: Sunny, warm, but not too hot. O’Korn is not slated to play and the renowned University of Michigan team is ranked and ready to win. Thousands of fans flock to Ann Arbor, while college kids prepare for a day of revelry.
Now picture the game day reality: The weather sucks (it’s either too hot or too cold), our team is pretty average at this point, the streets are overcrowded and everything is sticky and smells like beer.
Before I start, I will admit I am a hypocrite on this matter. Over the past three football seasons, I have bought season tickets, attended tailgates and on occasion even made it to the actual game. However, I have decided to stop supporting what can only be described as the worst sport and let my true opinions out.
There are many issues I have with football, some of which are hard to dispute (like the physical implications for players), and others that many of you will blame on my lack of understanding of the game.
“You’re just a stupid girl who doesn’t get the culture of the True American Sport! Bah!” — some angry white man commenting on my article, probably.
Which, in many ways, is not wrong. I know very little about the rules of football and fill in stereotypes about my gender in that regard, but that does not mean my opinions on football are not valid.
I probably won’t be the first or the smartest person to tell you that football is incredibly dangerous for its players. Study after study detail the high risk of brain damage associated with the sport, especially among young players.
Yet for some reason, we still worship the sport. Football is still cool. The popular show Friday Night Lights (which I personally hated, but that’s another issue) literally had a main character paralyzed, but people still loved the program and the sport. Mind-boggling!
On campus, we worship football players and consistently encourage them to risk serious injury in the name of our entertainment. I’m sure gladiator fights were also sort of fun to watch if you got into it, but that doesn’t mean it should be condoned in a modern society. (Also, it should be noted that in the National Football League the majority of players are Black while the majority of viewers are white, so there are major systemic imbalances in who bears the costs of football.)
On this point, it is difficult to play devil’s advocate and argue against me that football is actually safe, but if you are looking for a fight, do not despair.
I understand why sports are fun. I love the passion people have for their teams, the cheers and the taunts. Personally, the Blues Brother dance after the third quarter is one of my favorite traditions at the University. However, this does not mean football should be the outlet of our enthusiasm for athletics.
I went to a basketball game for the first time this semester and, wow — what a good time! You still get to do the cheers (and the dance), but you don’t have to spend four hours outdoors.
Why does a football game have to take four hours? That is way too long in my opinion, and there’s too much downtime, with actual play time amounting to a mere 11 minutes total on average. Other sports like basketball, hockey and soccer have more constant action, making them much more interesting than football.
Also why the heck is Michigan football outdoors? Why do people want to brave the elements for four whole hours? This year alone, Michigan football attendees suffered from sunburn, pouring rain and freezing temperatures. I will admit that the Mr. Brightside moment in the rain looked like good fun, but does three minutes of iconic music make up for four hours of shivering? I would say no.
While I was not a great football attendee (though I had season tickets, I only made it to three games, two of which I left before the first quarter), I managed to make it to most tailgates. Each game day I would wake up excited but consistently end up disappointed.
Again, why do they have to be outdoors? What do you do if it rains? (Apparently put up tarps or just let yourself get wet but personally, ew? Why would I want to do that?) The other half of the time it’s freezing cold, and you have to either wear tons of layers and cover up your bomb outfit or simply give up on being warm for the day and risk hypothermia. On the flip side, there are days when it is extremely hot and you end up sweaty, sunburnt and dangerously dehydrated.
Even if the weather is perfect, tailgates tend to be a net negative. Sure, the few hours you spend dancing can be a lot of fun, but the weird hours and postgame hangover make it generally shitty. For noon games, you have to wake up earlier than I do for my classes and pretend to be happy about it. Then following a day of tailgating and watching the game (for those of you who make it there and watch the whole thing), you eventually arrive home feeling like shit and just wanting some food and a long nap.
Additionally, the post-game nap is a very tricky thing to manage. Depending on the time of the game, it can really mess up your whole day. If you sleep too long, you could end up waking up at a time you would normally go to bed. Or you may wake up at a somewhat normal hour but still be hungover and have no energy to do anything else that day.
Despite the disruption and the general unpleasantness, we still commit to this tradition almost every other weekend in the fall, all for a sport that really isn’t worth the attention.
Perhaps we should take notes from other countries and obsess over the true football: soccer.