Idaho, KJ Hamler (1) run

Wide receiver KJ Hamler (1) protects the football as he carries the ball down the field during the season opener against Idaho at Beaver Stadium on Saturday, Aug 31, 2019. No. 15 Penn State defeated Idaho 79-7.

Football is weird.

The idea that thousands of people religiously follow a sport where extremely large, adult men smash their heads into each other for three hours every weekend in the fall is difficult to grasp.

It is also strange that this is a wholeheartedly American sport – pretty much not existing outside the United States. Football is only turned on the tube across the states – unlike soccer, which Americans tend not to care about (perhaps because women can play too.)

Football is more representative of American culture than any other sport. The culture surrounding it definitely is. Take yesterday, for example, when Penn State football was penciled to play at 7 p.m., and the tailgating fields were filled with perfectly drunk parents and students, all in matching outfits. The game started, but the seats weren’t especially full. Only real troopers have the stamina to make it to a night game – but thousands were still in attendance.

It is difficult not to parallel this sport to the gladiators in Rome. Clearly, I do not understand the intricacies of the sport, but the concept of big men fighting each other in an arena is too much of a coincidence to ignore. It is fortunate that they are no longer fighting to the death, but the brain damage taken by many players isn’t far from it.

Being a football player also confuses me. Yes, there is a certain amount of glamour that comes with it, but it often does not pay off with an NFL contract. Additionally, it is incredibly painful. I do not speak from experience, but I cannot imagine that bring rammed by a 300-pound person repeatedly feels good.

This is not to shame football players – it is incredibly impressive and an amazing feat of athleticism to be able to compete in a sport like that. I literally cannot imagine being that good at something, especially playing a sport.

This is more of a critique of American culture and the obsession that exists around sitting on the couch with a beer and watching it every weekend. Or, better yet, drinking a beer in the outside while anticipating watching it live from 500 feet away.

Maybe it is just how associated the sport is with men that makes me lack understanding, but something about the game does not make sense.

All being said, go birds.

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