Skip to content

Why Football is the Most Popular American Sport

August 16, 2012


Cheerleaders entertain the fans during the gam...

These cheerleaders may be gorgeous, but from where I’m sitting in the stadium, they could be hairy guys in skirts, and I wouldn’t be able to tell. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Since I wear glasses and read a lot of books, people assume I don’t like football, and I can understand why they think that.  Football fans paint their bodies in team colors, get drunk, shout profane slogans, destroy property, and I don’t  do any of that.  But I understand why football is awesome and what makes it the most popular sport in the United States.  

A lot of my friends (who also wear glasses and read a lot of books) hate football and don’t understand its appeal.  With football season here (or approaching), I’m probably going to have to explain football’s merits again very soon, so this is my practice. 


Here’s why Americans love football more than any other sport: 

1.  Most football games are played on the weekend. 

A lot of sporting events are played on week nights, and that can be tough on potential viewers/spectators.  Most football games are played on Saturdays (college) or Sundays (NFL), making it very easy for most potential viewers/spectators.  Fans can get sloppy drunk on a Saturday night (or Sunday afternoon) and still be fine on Monday morning (or Monday afternoon).  

That’s very thoughtful of football. 

2.  Almost every game is meaningful. 

This explains why football fans get really obsessed.  Teams only play one game a week for a few months out of the entire year.  College football teams play a 12 game season.  NFL teams play a 16 game season (only eight home games).  That means each game is important, and each game can be turned into a major event.  For football fans, every weekend from September to February is a holiday weekend. 

Unfortunately for football fans, some actual holidays don’t feel like holidays because there isn’t a football game on. 

3.  The football isn’t round. 

Most sports require a round ball, but the football has a weird shape.  This might not seem important, but it makes football unpredictable in ways that other sports aren’t.  The football can be thrown with a beautiful spiral that can be accurate even in a fierce wind.  The football, however, bounces or rolls in an ugly unpredictable way when it’s dropped or fumbled. 

I love watching Tom Brady (or Aaron Rodgers or any other quarterback) throw a 50 yard touchdown pass.  I also love watching Tom Brady (or any other quarterback) chase a fumbled football that keeps bouncing in different directions.  Everybody looks funny while chasing a rolling bouncing football, even Tom Brady. 

4.  Football requires more sets of skills than any other sport. 

A successful football team needs a bunch of big lugs on the (offensive and defensive) line, some strong fast athletes at the skill positions, and then a couple really smart guys (hopefully the coaches and quarterbacks) to run everything.  This means that there is an element of the game to appeal to every kind of sports fan. 

  • If you like violence, then you can watch the skill position guys get tackled or the linemen pound each other. 
  • If you like speed, you can watch the receivers getting open or the running backs flying through the holes in the line. 
  • If you like strategy, you can analyze the play calling. 

No other sport requires so many different skill sets, and all must work together for a football team to be successful. 

Football is like the United States.  In order for the United States to function and prosper, people of all religions, races, genders (and any other demographic groups that I can’t think of off hand) must share a common set of values (I’m not getting into what those values are or should be).  For a football team to succeed, athletes of various talents, sizes, and strengths must work together in a way that no other team sport requires.  Football is a unique sport for a unique country. 


5.  Football has the best music! 

Football music is rousing and can motivate me to do anything (except exercise).  If I’m having a rough morning, I can turn on NFL Network before I leave home, hear a few notes of football music that get stuck in my head, and I can walk into work in slow motion with my chin held high.  Nobody messes with a guy who walks into work in slow motion (though some people will call the cops). 

6.  I can read during a football game. 

This reason doesn’t appeal to many football fans, and I’ll never admit this outside of Dysfunctional Literacy.  Football is the one major sport where I can read a book and still keep up with the game.  If I try to read during any other sporting event, I’ll stop paying attention to the game (which isn’t necessarily bad). 

There’s about a 20-30 second time period between each play during a football game, and that’s enough time for me to read a little bit and then glance back up in time to catch the next play.  If the book is really good, I may miss a few plays, but I can always rewind.  If the game is really good, I may get stuck on the same page for a couple hours, but that’s okay too. 

Reading a book is best done at home.  As socially awkward as I may be, I have never taken a book to a football game.  Even I know that is a bad idea.  However, with today’s technology, I can read a book on my phone (or other device) and everybody around me assumes I’m either checking scores or watching porn, and everybody at the game is fine with that. 


If I get into a discussion about football with one of my non-football friends, I think I’ll shorten these explanations a little bit.

From → Pop culture

  1. nicwidhalm permalink

    Great post. There’s something almost intangible about football. It’s just…just…awesome. I’ve never been able to explain it properly to my European friends. I might have to point them at this blog. 🙂

    • “It’s just… just… awesome” is a perfectly good explanation. In fact, it probably should be #1 on the list of reasons why football is so popular in the United States.

  2. Sean Breslin permalink

    Agreed with Nic…it isn’t completely explainable why we love football, but we just do.

  3. I’ve read a book at a football game.
    But to be fair I was with a friend and was sitting on the opposing teams side.

    They were all standing rooting for my side’s downfall, so I sat down and read a book.
    A strange form of protest, I know, but oddly satisfying.

    • Reading is a great way to protest, especially at a football game. It’s probably better than getting into shouting matches and insult contests with opposing fans sitting around you. Some fans don’t handle disagreements very well.

  4. I admit it, I’m a football hater. While you do provide a good argument, it won’t make me watch football. I don’t understand it. I don’t understand why a game with only 4 quarters, takes 4 hours to play? 60 minute quarters can only be found during football games, thank goodness. 🙂

    • A game probably shouldn’t go four hours (unless it’s quadruple overtime, or quarterbacks keep throwing a bunch of incompletions), so I agree that can be a drag. The NFL is pretty good about keeping most games to three hours, but if you hate football, that still might be three hours too long. Thanks for stopping by.

  5. As a fellow glasses wearing, book reader I have to say this is a very good post. I also enjoy football more than any other sport.

  6. This was great! I’m sending it to my Dad 🙂

  7. I read during football too! And baseball. That’s easier. But still, great list.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: