Weather Forecast


Reflections of a football aficionado

Football is a big deal at my house. I live with a bunch of guys who love the game. My daughter married a guy who loves the game. It only makes sense I'd be pulled into the gridiron mix.

As such, I've contemplated certain intricacies about the game. Not the rules or playing strategies or scoring methods, but the really important stuff. For instance: Why is it called football? The ball doesn't look anything like a foot. Maybe a large, rounded pointy toe — if your creativity allows you such a transmutation, but certainly not a whole foot.

The technical name for a football's shape (I did the Google) is a prolate spheroid, which is the shape of a pig's bladder, which is what the first footballs were made from. That's why they call it a pigskin. (No pigs were harmed or injured during this NFL season. Now, the balls are made of leather.)

The game itself involves mostly throwing, catching and carrying the ball — in one's hands. Except for the kicker, no one uses his feet for anything other than running, and that's hardly a reason to name an entire game after the foot.

The playing field is measured in yards, and a yard is technically 3 feet, but you never hear the announcer say third down and 12 feet to go. They'd say third and four — as in yards.

In other countries, our American soccer is called football, which makes more sense because soccer (or football depending on where you live) predominantly involves kicking the ball — with one's feet.

There's probably not a logical explanation for the name. Some things you just have to take at face value. Football is football. Unless, of course, it is soccer.

To some, the misnomered sport becomes bigger than just a game, and not just for the guys I live with. It mimics life. The parallels are practically endless.

In life — and football — sometimes you are on the offense, sometimes on defense. You have to be competent in both and know which one to play and when.

In both, success is most often a result of teamwork. There is no "I" in football. I can't say the same for life, so I guess my clever analogy stops there.

Players and people spend quality and quantity time trying to reach goals or goal posts, all in search of the big "W" because winning is the objective of football, life and just about anything else worth playing.

Football and life are serious business — not to be taken lightly. But a little levity along the way often enhances the heavier moments. At least it makes them more bearable. This is exactly why the coffee break and timeout commercials were invented. Dilly dilly.

We all have to tackle life's obstacles and try to run with an idea whenever we perceive a gap in the defense. An occasional fumble is inevitable for just about everyone. You don't want to go offside or leave anything incomplete. Sometimes we have no alternative but to dive headfirst into a pile of formidable opponents to push forward past the goal line to win the prize.

I haven't always been a football aficionado, nor did I recognize the many relevant and significant ways the game impacts my life. It started a few years ago with a friendly family fantasy football competition. The first two years I came in dead last. This year, I won. I guess some of my well-honed football knowledge is useful after all.

That's a touchdown by any stretch of the pigskin.

Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright, author and member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists.