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Inside the Psyche of a Football Freak


"Football Freak" is the name of a character I created on September 22, 2017 to represent the smartest football minds in America. He's watched thousands of games over the years and loves to spend hours analyzing plays. He believes that without the game America would fall apart. He lives and breathes football ... his head is even shaped like one.

Checking TV ratings it appears there's validity to some of Football Freak's logic. In week one of the 2017-2018 season ratings were low, but that was due to two big hurricanes in Florida and the Caribbean. In week two the Nielsen ratings jumped back up to normal levels, with the top game viewed by over 20 million people. None of network TV's regular programming comes close to beating the NFL audience.

America's love for football is interesting since it's such a complex sport with tons of rules, yet America seems to crave simplicity. Football does have it's simple side, as many people watch just to cheer for teams. You don't really have to know the game or its strategies, you just have to be able to pick between two teams. For many people that choice is based on geography. For deeper football fans like Football Freak, it's all about the game and how well the players execute plays. For others it's all about the color of the uniform.

Football is an amazing game of infinite possibilities, making it difficult to predict what may happen on any given play. I remember standing in front of a crowd as a hotel DJ years ago holding a remote in my hand and drawing attention to the freeze frame image of two teams on a big screen. There were about 50 people in the room on a Monday night. I went around the room with my microphone and asked participants what they thought would happen on the next play. I asked people to be specific, such as a pass play to a specific receiver. After collecting dozens of unique predictions I hit "play" on the video machine and it turned out to be something no one called - offsides and a five-yard penalty.

What stands out about football is that the game is stacked with rules, so you almost have to sound like a long-winded lawyer to articulate how the game is played. Then there are the various types of match-ups and plays that define the game as reflective of the military industrial complex. So much war terminology such as "shotgun" and "the long bomb" are important to the playbook. It's a game about aggression, but as the years go on, it's becoming less and less violent. You can no longer crush someone's skull as a strategy. Many obvious violent acts now draw penalties.

As the season got off to a shaky, start traditional patriots speculated that Colin Kaepernick brought too much politics to the game by kneeling during the national anthem as a protest against police brutality. But Colin hasn't played this year due to being an unsigned free agent. No team seems to want to sign him, even though he's been to the Super Bowl. Polls showed that about 60% of Americans didn't agree with Colin's kneeling, but it obviously didn't kill the sport's popularity.

Football lives on and probably will for a long time since it's become engrained in American culture. From the 1920s through the 1970s baseball was America's most popular sport, but from the 1980s on it's been football. Part of it may have to do with the fact that football is kind of about conquering real estate, which is a deeply woven fantasy into the fabric of the American dream. That's why Football Freak mixes in real estate metaphors whenever he's calling a game as a sportscaster.

Created by Alex Cosper