Football Is The Saddest Sport

Football Is The Saddest Sport

On January 4, 2020, I was at my cousins’ house cuddled up on the sofa, as a glitching illegal stream was projected onto the wall. Me, my little brother, and my older cousin were all focused on the stream, carefully observing every movement, scrutinizing the placement of every single pixel on the screen.

It was the second AFC Wild Card game: the Titans vs. the Patriots. 

I am no football expert. In fact, I purposefully alienate myself from the game in order to cause comical detachment from my brother, who only wants to talk about football. After that game, I could no longer alienate myself. I connected with the game. I connected with it because I believe that it is the saddest sport in the entire world.

The most crucial play of that game actually wasn’t a play at all. In the fourth quarter, the Tennessee Titans got into a situation where they were able to not play football for almost two entire minutes, and it still counted. 

The Titans had to punt the ball away, but were willing to take a delay of game in order to get more space to punt. While doing this, though, they were able to run down 1:46 minutes.

They just went onto the field, stood there, and their advantage just kept increasing. All the Patriots could do was wait for the ball to come into their arms. They waited for one minute and 46 seconds in football time, but considering that the average NFL game runs for three hours (despite the one hour of time allotted to actual gametime), I’m going to guess that the Patriots just sat around waiting for more than five minutes.

Just imagine you’re playing pick-up basketball, and then towards the end of an intense game, both sides just sit aside for five minutes. All they can do is wait. In that five minutes, they could listen to “Drunk In Love” by Beyoncé, make a sandwich, or write an article as good as this one. 

Football is just a game of waiting. It’s a game of giving up while waiting, as well. 

And that act of giving up—an act of strategic cowardice—was one that ultimately won the game for the Titans. It’s somewhat ironic that we as Americans have rejected sports like soccer for being boring, and yet most drives in football just end in kicking the ball away.

So why are we so attached to this game? Americans are universally recognized as impatient and optimistic, and yet football requires great patience and is frequently soul crushing. Maybe, underneath the perceived simplicity of American life and our unrelenting idea that all of our dreams will magically come true, we realize that life is more akin to getting crushed by a 300 pound man and then having to wait five minutes, only to get crushed again.

I can sympathize with that. We look to sports for hope and inspiration, but a lot of American sports teams know they suck. That’s why they purposefully lose, and just hope for good draft picks the next year. All they can do is wait for that next draft, that next free agency season, or that the other teams suck too. 

So yes, of course the Patriots were “deflated” after the Titans gave up. They went onto lose the game and ultimately had their reign over the NFL come to an end. All they can do now is wait for next season.

My cousin, my brother, and I were all happy for a little bit with that Patriots loss, but then the next week Ryan Tannehill’s Tennessee Titans stomped on Lamar Jackson’s Baltimore Ravens. Our dreams of a quarterback who was a person of color progressing far into the playoffs were slowly being crushed. 

There is no happiness for me to have in American football. It is the saddest sport.

Sorry, Tom.