Steve: Football worth learning all over again

I’m dreading the start of football season because I’m probably going to have to cover some games. I haven’t actually covered a game since I was a cub reporter in 1972.

I watch a little football, especially when my alma mater, West Virginia, makes a playoff somewhere, or if I happen to catch a game in progress when looking for something else on TV.

To me, it’s about 22 guys, 11 of whom are trying to advance the ball toward the goal line; the other 11 are trying to stop them or take the ball away. The ball is carried around or flies around until the referee blows the whistle. If the ball ends up closer to the opposing team’s goal, no matter who has it, I cheer. If the ball ends up closer to West Virginia’s goal, I go “Aw-w.”

That’s about it. I can’t tell an “I” from a “T” or an “option play” from “3-2” defense. I know as much about football strategy as I do about convertible subordinated debentures. Actually, I know a little more about convertible subordinated debentures. I’ve actually owned a couple of those through a stockbroker.

When the big guys in suits on the TV start shouting between plays, I tune out.

“Wembley should have cut right, because that was the only way left, right?.”

“Yeah, Horowitz held up and Washington went down. Figwitz really went south.”

“Figwitz is really up front behind the 35.”

“Remember Brett Favre against Houston in ’03?”

“Yeah, he didn’t like that call.”

“I don’t know.”

“Third base!”

General laughter.

During commercial breaks they probably talk about convertible subordinated debentures.

My football days were along ago. I could understand O.J. Simpson running a broken field. I could understand Walter Payton driving his helmet into a tackle’s thorax and gaining three more yards just from the momentum. I could understand Joe Namath prancing, delicately throwing the ball, and having it land in the right guy’s hands with amazing consistency.

Today, I understand Tebow and Tebow-ing, but beyond that, I’m lost.

I don’t know whether football changed or I did, but somewhere in there I lost a lot of my interest in the game.

I watch the Super Bowl for the ads. I read about $10-million salaries and megabuck naming rights deals that produce monstrosities like the Arm and Hammer Baking Soda Municipal Coliseum of Greater Cincinnati (OK. I made that up.) When I watch the pros, I hear, “Hut one, hut two, cha-CHING!” I see dollar signs chasing each other around the field. College ball is still somewhat about honor and emotion, but those guys, too, have an eye out for the scouts.

Maybe I just got cynical. Then again, maybe I, too, have become more about money, as one does with age, and I’m watching them earn more in one game than I’ll earn in five years.

Then I think about growing my own little stash of cash, and instead of watching the stats for a fantasy football team, I end up looking up dividend rates on convertible subordinated debentures.

But wait, I tell myself about the upcoming season, I’ll be covering high school ball. It’s all about honor and glory and getting emotional on the field and in the stands. It’s about your whole life hanging on the next play. It’s worth learning it all over again. That’s looking like a better investment than debentures, anyway.

Steve Hansen is the managing editor at the Quay County Sun. He can be reached at shansen@qcsunonline.com

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