The League

Michael Kun

Michael Kun

Co-author of The Football Uncyclopedia. He is also the author of six other books and is a practicing attorney.

Pushy Americana Fail


You have to admit that we Americans can be pretty pushy. Yes, it's a broad generalization, but, as far as generalizations go, it's true. It's not enough that we enjoy or believe in something. No, like your grandma trying to convince you that you'll love the sourballs on her coffee table, we want others to enjoy it, too. Sometimes, we push awfully hard for the world to accept ideas that are worthy of worldwide acceptance. ("Push" may be an understatement.) A few examples off the top of my fat head: democracy, anti-discrimination laws, conservation of natural resources, peanut M&Ms.

Sometimes, we push awfully hard for the world to accept things that don't deserve worldwide acceptance. Examples: fast-food tacos, Kanye West, NASCAR, casual Fridays. Which is not to say that any of those things are valueless or objectively bad, no, it's just to say that they're ours. There's nothing wrong with us having a few things that are uniquely American. Nothing wrong at all. Although there is something just a little desperate, just a little please-ask-me-to-the-senior-prom-or-I'll-dieish, about the need to have the rest of the world validate what we love.

So the world hasn't embraced professional football. (Our version, not theirs.) So what? Why are we waiting by the phone on a Friday night for the rest of the world to call to tell us they love pro football?

Because the call isn't coming... ever. And, ultimately, who cares if they do call? Football, (our version, not theirs) is ours, all ours. The fact that the rest of the world hasn't bought into it should in no way diminish our enjoyment of it.

Ireland hasn't embraced the NFL. So what?

France couldn't care less about Tom Brady or Drew Brees or Tony Mandarich. So what?

No one in Italy can tell a wildcat from a red dog. So what?

We tried. They don't like it. That doesn't make them bad people. And it doesn't make us bad people. It just makes us different -- hey, we don't exactly like blood pudding or pig's head brawn, do we?

But, because we're Americans, we're going to keep trying to get them to like pro football, aren't we? And, because they're not Americans, they're going to keep rejecting it. Baseball tried the same thing and succeeded a little in Asia. Basketball tried and succeeded almost everywhere.

So, why is football different? Why has football been rejected by the rest of a world that has partially accepted baseball and largely accepted basketball? And why will this continue to be the case long after you and I are dead and buried?

Let me answer that question with a question (or two): Why have we largely rejected soccer and entirely rejected cricket? And why will we continue to do so, for time eternal? Because we don't get them. Because those sports don't speak to us as a society. Because those sports aren't a part of us, and don't say anything about us. And, on a different level, because they don't look interesting enough to us superficially for us to want to invest the time to understand them non-superficially.

To an outsider watching pro football for the first time, it probably looks like nothing more than a bunch of giants bumping into each other randomly. You and I know better. We have been raised on football. We know the giants are not bumping into each other randomly. It's our game. We're not going to convince the rest of the world to embrace it. Ever. Which is absolutely fine with me.

Now, Kanye West. That's a different story altogether. Except for "Golddigger," I don't get that guy at all. Especially the time he interrupted Taylor Swift's acceptance speech at the MTV Video Music awards. And I don't get Taylor Swift, either. Or the MTV Video Music awards.

By Michael Kun  |  October 24, 2009; 9:23 PM ET  | Category:  New England Patriots , Roger Goodell , Tampa Bay Buccaneers Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: L.A. Before London | Next: Does the NFC Stand a Chance?


Please email us to report offensive comments.

I partially agree. I'm an American, born and raised, and I find football (America's version) quite dull as a sport. It's way too slow for me. I just can't stand the stop-and-go nature of the sport. That is probably the Achille's heel preventing the NFL from taking off outside of the USA.

Plus, whereas basketball (all you need is a rubber ball and a hard surface; hence why many inner-city kids excel at that sport) and baseball (all you need is a ball and a stick; like stickball in days of yore) are pretty cheap to play and export, football requires hundreds of dollars worth of equipment. Also, football is better suited for colder climates.

The one think you don't mention is that every other country has its own version of football. There is soccer football, Australia and Canada have their own versions, and other countries such as New Zealand and South Africa have rugby (union and league) as an alternative. I think NFL football may be crowded out.

I actually think soccer is pretty great as a sport. It's 90 minutes of nonstop action. I'd argue that soccer is interesting enough for the US to support a league. Granted, without Latin American and African immigrants the sport would be nowhere, but it's a start. Plus I'm a diehard DC United fan so I gotta represent!

Posted by: AlexandriaMan | October 24, 2009 11:56 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2011 The Washington Post Company