Previous: Across Three Continents: A Tale of Tumblr, Copyright, and Excellent Posters
Next: Headless Statues and Elton John's Piano: Seeing Sights in London (Thoughts from Places)



View count:463,481
Last sync:2023-09-27 10:30
In which Hank talks about American Football (also known as Hand Egg) from the perspective of a nerd...particularly tackling the question of why this sport is so popular.

I have just arrived in the UK and knew I wouldn't have time to make a video, so I filmed this before I left Missoula.

Thanks to Dave Loos for doing much of the research necessary to make this episode.

11 Minutes of Play:
Good morning John, right now I'm on a plane to England, so three weeks ago, I decided to film this video with the full knowledge that America would be in a frenzy over the football, football, football of the Super Bowl season. While in the United Kingdom, where I'm headed, they care about as much about handegg as they do about spices other than salt. So, let's be honest, the portion of people watching this video who care a lot about football: probably pretty small, but that doesn't mean that there aren't interesting things to learn. So, welcome, to A NERD'S GUIDE TO FOOTBALL. Since one out of every three people in America will be spending time watching football this year, the most important and interesting question, to me, is : Why? Why is the sport so successful? Why will we be spending a collective 300 million man hours of time (428 human lives) watching the Super Bowl this year, when, and this is a shocking statistic, that is the amount of time that it took to create Wikipedia! A recent study found that in the average two hour and fifty four minute (174 minutes) long televised football broadcast, one hour was advertisements, seventy five minutes was football players milling around or setting up for plays, seventeen minutes was replays of stuff that had already happened, and the actual game play, the amount of time that the ball was in play and the players were playing, in a three hour long broadcast of football was: eleven minutes. That other fifteen minutes - that time was taken up by station promos and coaches and injured players and celebrations and cheerleaders and stuff. So it's easy to see why people in the rest of the world might be a little bit puzzled by our fascination with this sport, in which apparently nothing happens. But as is so often the case, the numbers - the numbers hold the answers. Football is a game of anticipation: small bursts of action followed by build up. Every play, a small victory for one team or another, keeping you engaged. Another reason for football's success is that the games are very often close. More than fifty percent are decided by single digits and more than forty percent are decided by one scoring opportunity. Indeed, statistically the most common spread for a football game is three points, often decided by a single last minute field goal. Because of its ability to attract and retain the attention of a human, football has become a bit of an economic powerhouse. And this is also because all of those little breaks in play allow opportunities for America's second-favorite past time - being advertised to. And if you think I'm kidding, take a look at this statistic - the average American spends over five hundred hours per year watching television advertisements. Twelve full-time work weeks per adult, per year. Sometimes people ask me how I have time to do so many things and I tell them that I don't watch TV. It is important to note, however, that a game of football was not the top television broadcast in America of all time. That distinction goes to the series finale of M*A*S*H, retaining more than sixty percent of American households. However, for the very first time last year, Monday night football was the top rated television series in America, breaking an eight-year long streak from American Idol. All of this success, of course, equals dollars. The most expensive football team in America, that would be the Dallas Cowboys, with a projected worth of more than 2.1 billion dollars. In 2011, they had 226 million dollars of profit. That's more than the Raiders had in revenue. Poor Raiders. Including food and drinks and merchandise, the average cost for an American family of four to go to a football game is over five hundred dollars. For players, of course, all of this means high paychecks. The minimum you can be payed as an NFL player is three hundred thousand dollars per year. And the top salary of 2011, that was nineteen million dollars, going to linebacker Dwight Freeney. That man was born the same year as me, is my height, and weighs exactly one hundred pounds more than I do. And his financial advisor was just arrested for embezzling two million dollars from him. Brave guy. But all those high paychecks, you may have heard, does not lead to financial stability. Seventy eight percent of football players are broke two years after retirement. As for how the actual game functions, there's a ball and you have to get into the end zone and there's rules and plays and it's all very physically impressive and seems quite dangerous. John, I'll see you tomorrow.