The League

Zach Leibowitz
Sideline Reporter

Zach Leibowitz

A former sideline reporter for ESPN

Feel the Appeal


Ah, the beauty of a visiting wide receiver cutting across the middle of the field as the ball is thrown his way. It's a little to the left so he reaches up to get his hands on the ball. As he's making the catch and bringing it into his body, the salivating safety charges hard from behind.


He crushes the receiver, helmet goes flying, mouthpiece laying on the ground. The receiver stays down for a minute, hopefully with just the wind knocked out of him, nothing more. As the trainer is summoned onto the field, the safety is finishing up his little dance, his cornerback teammates rushing to congratulate their man who will no doubt be featured on multiple highlight reels later that night. The announcers still can't get over the collision, as the TV trucks start airing every replay possible. Even the blimp cam from way up above. The fans are going wild. They take another gulp of the $10 beer and tell their buddies, this is what I came to see. This is football. That's what you get for trying to make a play over the middle of the field in our house.

Oh, and the pass was incomplete.

So yes, the appeal of bone-crushing hits and the release of some Sunday testosterone to finish off a hard work week is why football is the most popular sport in this country and why it's like a weekly soap opera you cannot miss. It's the reason buddies get together for a two-day parking lot tailgating session leading up to a critical Lions/Falcons game. They grill and set up shop inviting strangers to join them and start throwing the football around for a little rough touch in between oncoming car timeouts. The car passes -- game on. Then they finish their final beers and cooked red meat just in time to catch the 2nd half.

The NFL has made its mark in part because of the mano y mano nature of the sport over the years. Most don't want to see anyone get seriously hurt, but when it comes to the violent nature of football, this is their outlet, their release and their identity, all represented by hoping their safety rips the receivers head off.

By Zach Leibowitz  |  September 19, 2008; 7:23 AM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Hit 'Em Hard, Hit 'Em Fair | Next: An Indelicate Balance


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No this is not the primary reason for footballs appeal. Its an increadably complex game and is intricately intertwined with american values and culture which accounts for its appeal. I believe most people don't want to see anyone get hurt and I think the players themselves are in that camp as well. The point is to tackle the opponent not to injure him....just ask the guy who paralyzed Derrell Stingley...forgot his name but I know he regrets having a part in that incident. Only moronic fools watch the game simply for the violence

Posted by: congero | September 20, 2008 11:02 PM

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