American Football in Perspective
American football is the sport in American culture that seems to inspire the most heated devotion. Baseball is still probably the most watched sport in America. American sport fans divide their attention among a lot of different sports today. However, football fans are known for being some of the most aggressive and passionate sports fans that people are going to find in the United States, and they work hard to live up to that reputation.
While baseball is often seen as the sport that is quintessentially American, American football may be the most American sport in many ways. The fact that Americans call this sport ‘football’ in the first place is a tremendous point of contention internationally. ‘Football’ in the rest of the world is called ‘soccer’ in the United States. Some Americans refer to soccer as European football for the sake of symmetry, which is not going to resolve much internationally. In most of the world, the game played in the National Football League, or NFL, is just called American football. This controversy has been going on for a long time, and it isn’t going away any time soon. To most of the world, American football is nearly unique to America. To many Americans, liking the NFL is practically a form of patriotism in its own right.
The inaugural season of the NFL was in 1920, making this league older than a lot of people today think. It is true that baseball was more popular at the time by a substantial margin, but football has at least come close to catching up ever since. There are currently thirty-two teams affiliated with the NFL. The most recent championship involved the Denver Broncos, which would have been a shock to anyone twenty years ago or so. The Denver Broncos have been a dark horse in recent years. People have decorated themselves in the team’s orange, navy blue, and white colors in support of a team that managed to turn itself around in seemingly record time.
People who are looking for the football team that is more or less considered the quintessential American football team should probably look to the Green Bay Packers. They’ve won thirteen league championships, making them the most successful football team in the history of the NFL in that regard. However, many of the fans of the Green Bay Packers would say that the power and prestige of this team goes back further than that.
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, small town sports teams of all kinds dominated. The Green Bay Packers go all the way back to the emerging local professional teams of the 1890’s. They were officially founded in 1919. The Green Bay Packers are substantially older than many of the other teams affiliated with the NFL today, and for many people, their origin story is highly symbolic. The Green Bay Packers and their development could be seen as being representative of the NFL’s development in its own right.
People will wear dark green, white, and gold in support of the Green Bay Packers. Their fight song is: ‘Go You Packers Go!’ It should be noted that not all football teams have their own fight songs, but many of the most prominent teams do have them, and their fans are going to know them by heart. Usually, the fans will sing them at the beginning of the game, during the game at key moments, and at the end. Fight songs are almost always going to be appropriate, except for the most intense moments where everyone seems to get quiet.
Football fans are known for trying to get to the stadiums before they fill up, and going to extensive measures to make sure that they get to the game. It’s popular for football players to grill food out of the back of their trucks. This gives them something to eat as they trudge into the huge stadiums with their full meals, keeping them better fed than the baseball fans with their hot dogs. However, this also allows football fans to relish in some of the other values on display at NFL games.
NFL games are showcases for machismo in ways that a lot of other sports games are not. Football has always emphasized masculinity in the American sense. Football is a very aggressive contact sports. Players are often seriously hurt, and some of them get permanently damaged as a result of the game that they play. In macho culture, taking pain and going into something knowing that it is going to be painful will earn people status points.
NFL stars have to be large and powerful, which is another status symbol in the world of professional football. Football itself seems to embody the principles of macho culture. Games have rigid rules, there is no leeway when it comes to the points where the games begin or end, and the language surrounding football tends to be very aggressive. Grilling meat out of one’s truck more or less combines two macho activities in one.
The NFL fandom tends to be more male-dominated than other sports fandoms in many ways. The fact that American football tends to be a celebration of machismo as much as it is a celebration of almost anything else is why this happens. The image of American men spending time with each other to watch football away from the women in their lives is a popular one in American culture, and it tends to accurately reflect the way many people see football.
Incidentally, NFL fans manage to really make their presence known. All sports fans can sometimes get aggressive when the results of the game contradict their expectations. However, football fans tend to be more aggressive than other sports fans. European football fans overseas are often worse. European football fans are noted for causing the sort of riots that leave people killed. However, while most NFL matches don’t end like that, football fans in the United States do still have a tendency to celebrate in ways that require a lot of cleanup the next day.