Autumn Weekends

In the American South, autumn means a respite from searing heat and lackluster baseball. In the North, it denotes brilliant outdoor colors and the donning of sweaters.

But North or South, what it really means is football has returned.

After six months of somewhat sleepy sports activities — like horse racing and horseshoes — America finds itself once again addicted to our country’s true national pastime, football.

And with good reason.

Football goes by a clock. Baseball doesn’t. Clocks denote constraints. We live our lives by clocks. We get to work on time. We go to school from nine to three. Get your homework done before Sunday night.

Baseball has few time constraints. Despite well-intended rule changes, baseball games are still agonizingly slow.

Football is four fifteen-minute periods with two-minute warnings as halves end, sixty precise minutes of non-stop action. Work the clock, use the clock, kill the clock, save the clock, watch the clock, stop the clock……that’s football.

Football Saturdays have Alabama crimson precisely performing, Notre Dame blue and gold on the cusp, chasing that elusive next national title, Big Ten resurgence versus previous SEC dominance. The NFL’s best of the best perform at exactly one and four o’clock every Sunday.

Football has crowds ranging from millions watching on television to thousands cheering in stadiums to hundreds at “Friday Night Light” games in every big city and small town in America. Organized and policed properly, football can be a classroom in communal civility, a seminar on achieving goals, a better than “TED Talk” on individual sacrifice leading to team success.

Game plans in baseball end with the first pitch. In contrast, football strategy dictates building upon your strengths and exploiting your opponents’ weaknesses play after play after play.

Football is determining true champions. A plethora of one-and-done games. Baseball is six months of sluggishly played night games leading to seemingly endless post-season play with few teams having national fan bases.

Football is the Family Manning, Andrew Luck, Larry Fitzgerald, Calvin Johnson, Aaron Rodgers, Marshawn Lynch and Cam Newton. Baseball is, I don’t know, maybe Dee Gordon, MLB’s top hitter?

Who?

Football Cinderella stories abound. How in the name of Knute Rockne did Tom Brady last until the sixth round and how did quarterback Kurt Warner go from the Arena League to supermarket checkout clerk to the Super Bowl?

No sport values defensive play as does football. A strikeout in baseball? No big deal. Your team has twenty-six other at-bats to produce, whereas in football, busted defensive coverage usually results in an opponent scoring. You lose a game in baseball, you have dozens of opportunities to make it up. Every defeat in football leaves far fewer chances at redemption.

College football may lack the skill level of the NFL but is every bit as exciting. From the Saturday morning moment ESPN doofus Lee Corso dons the headgear of the team he has picked to win, to the game’s final gun, bedlam ensues. Cheering, yelling, screaming, rabidly faithful fans run the gridiron gauntlet from hope to despair and back, only to repeat it all a week later.

Football. You gotta love it.

And everybody does.

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18 responses to “Autumn Weekends

  1. Welcome back Jim! We missed ya…

  2. Thanks, Kenny. Glad to be back. Hut One, Hut Two๐Ÿˆ๐Ÿˆ

  3. Glad your back……but re your final comment,”everybody doesn’t”-and I am one of them. I like football too, the national game remains baseball as it should. Your comparison of slow baseball games speaks to the pro game, then you address the fun of college football-a. college baseball games are not slow b. have you been to a pro football game and sat there while the commercials are played out? And nite vs day, again most college games are day just like most college football so keep the comparison fair! As to attendance, pro baseball far wins that vs pro football, if we get into that, well, lets pull in soccer and basketball, both of which worldwide (soccer) and USA (basketball) far out fan either of the others. And if you haven’t been excited watching Mike Trout, Giancarlo Stanton, Bryce Harper, then go back to bed. Cinderalla stories in baseball? Too many to count, how about we start with a local guy, Paul Molitor? And one last one, ie game plans, thats what makes baseball unique, the game plan can change on each pitch rather than some monotonus (sp?) 3 ring binder.

  4. Barbara slloum

    So glad you are back. Let the games begin!

  5. JIM, great article, nice to have football back after 6 months. I’m also back in action, beat the BIG”C”, have been clean for 15 months now, thanks to the wonderful and talented doctors at the Mayo Clinic. Looking forward to returning to Minneapolis to cheer the Golden Gophers on to victory. Hope you are well.
    Tom Sakal – Captain “67” Big Ten Champions

    • Don’t know you, Tom, don’t even know Reese except thru his friendship with a friend of mine, but your clean comment beats all others, continued good luck with that!!!!!

    • Tom, what wonderful news. You had a
      bunch of fellow Gophers pulling for you.
      Gophers are gonna have another good
      year. I can’t really figure how Wisconsin
      gets beat pretty soundly by Alabama
      going in at # 3, and # 2 TCU gets by
      us by six points and Wisconsin slips into
      the top 25 and we don’t. But it’s a long
      season. Stay in touch and Go, Gophers!

  6. Always great to hear from you, Hope all is well and lets hope for a GREAT SEASON for the GOPHERS

  7. Johnny Salvatore

    Couldn’t agree more with your take, coach. But as a long suffering Mets fan, it was nice to finally see some wins this summer. Not that any of them was as big as Fordham beating another FBS team! Think this fall will treat both of your maroon teams well. Maybe the Mets tooโ€ฆ

  8. Terry Parssinen

    Great to read you again, Coach, and great to be back on the cusp of another football season. Temple beats Penn State, for the first time in 74 years! What a wonderful game!
    Terry Parssinen

  9. Clarita Bourque

    What is the matter with you! You left out Drew Brees in the last of quarterbacks…
    Sr. Clarita Bourque

  10. Johnny, great win for Fordham and what a great Mets season. Loved your revisionist history re the Rams.

  11. Terry, congrats on the Temple win. Could be the start of something great.

  12. Clarita, it was only space that prevented Drew’s inclusion. (Oops, with the Internet, that age old journalistic dodge no longer exists, does it?)
    Happy football, Dear๐Ÿˆ๐Ÿˆ๐Ÿˆ

  13. Must add one more comment, re pro football, and keep in mind, I am a Pats fan, the whole world should have puked at watching the pre game show, can someone explain why we had a singer in San Fransisco singing a song that had nothing to do with anything football in front of a crowd that would half fill a junior high gym? This opening game was NOT the super bowl, it was just the first game of the season……point being, baseball has not sunk so trashy. Bob Costas, bad comb-over/wig combo, all 5′ 2″ of him, and his hairless coharts, have no pride, as they ride that NFL hipe all the way to the sorry commisioners office. Cannot wait for the baseball world series, no matter who is in it! Yours truly, Kenshaw (Mountain) Landis.

  14. Robert Chambers

    Hey Coach,

    No truer words may have ever been typed than your finishing sentences:
    “Cheering, yelling, screaming, rabidly faithful fans run the gridiron gauntlet from hope to despair and back, only to repeat it all a week later.
    Football. You gotta love it.”

    Enough said. Thank you.