Welcome to Culture Crash, where we examine what’s new and old in entertainment.
The NFL Preseason is well underway and the start of the regular season is just around the corner. On September 5, the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers will kick off the league’s 100th season in Chicago, beginning the mad dash to the Super Bowl in February.
One hundred years after the NFL’s inception, and despite all of the sport’s dangers, football remains the king of U.S. culture. Every year, Sunday Night Football ratings dominate the year-end most-watched TV program lists, Thanksgiving has become a holiday that revolves around watching football, and the Super Bowl is practically its own national holiday. What is it about football that makes it so culturally present, even more than other American sports like basketball and baseball?
I think the ritualistic aspect of it cannot be overlooked. MLB teams play 162 games and NBA teams play 82 games. For both sports, the schedule is jam-packed. Teams play on every day of the week and, in baseball, sometimes, they even play twice in one day. That means no casual fan realistically can see every game. But the NFL is appointment viewing, because every team plays just 16 regular season games and they mostly fall on Sundays. Sure, Thursdays and Mondays see action, and late in the season, Saturdays get some love. But for most of the fall, fans can reliably sit down on a Sunday and watch their favorite team. And that regularity has, at least for me, made watching the NFL a tradition. My family uses football games as a convenient way to gather in the back-to-school madness and when cold, windy days begin to signify the start of winter. We’ve done so for as long as I can remember. While we may once in a while catch a Bulls or Cubs game together, a Bears game is a ritual, and none of us can stand to miss a minute.
So yes, on September 5, my family, and so many others, will gather around the TV and watch the beginning of the NFL season. The king of our American culture, for better or worse.
I’m Evan Rook.