THE FALL SPORTING LIFE

Now that the Summer Olympics are said and done for this season, now it’s time to concentrate (if the term “concentrate” is the word to use), on other sporting events that are out there in media-land.

Since it’s middle summer, or it was the last time this writer checked, now it’s the moment to deal with one of the bigger forms of pro sports to deal with. And that sport in what makes the fall season worth its time–Football, spelled with a capitol “F”!!

Of course, there are many levels of this game that are out there. There are the peewee leagues for kids (boys mostly) that are for those in the single digit age. Then there are the leagues played among the middle schools a.k.a. junior high schools. Moving up there are the senior high school leagues. Then we have college level teams, where things begin to get rather serious. Finally, there are the pro leagues where every Sunday (or Thursday or Monday nights), two teams battle it on with the hopes to reach the top where they become involved in the only championship game that matters, the ever lovin’ Super Bowl!

This writer won’t get involved with stats or figures for the game as this same writer isn’t too keen on who’s playing for what and where. You can leave those figures for the bookies out there, as well as those that are involved in Fantasy Football, a method of play that has a participation of many, and a game that isn’t quite understood by this same writer. (“Me”!) I never quite got the idea why anyone would play a game where it’s part of a “fantasy”. But then again, what do I know?

But getting back into the game of football for this moment. In many communities, high school football is the be-all-to-end-all! The following of the local team that plays each Friday evening for the community it represents is part of what makes the community stand out among the others. And when I speak about “community”, we are speaking of small town America, where local pride runs higher than, let’s say, a larger urban area. Although the suburban regions near a larger megagapous could count as well, small town communities hold more drama and the passion that goes along with it. In fact, one of the most popular legacy TV series available for streaming is the TV series Friday Night Lights, an episodic drama about a high school team located in a small town in Texas. (This writer believes it’s available on Peacock since FNL was produced by Universal, and Peacock is owned by NBCUniveral.)

One element of high school football is the fact that it receives little to no publicity outside of the communities they belong to. For many years, if a local Cable TV company provided service to the said community, games would be televised through the local public access/local origination channel. Watching these games through your local CATV provider created an incentive to become a subscriber, especially if one had some connection to the local school team.

When I was once employed by a franchise of Group W Cable in a suburban area of north Minneapolis, the channel would air all of the  home games each Friday night, complete with a play-by-play and color man, along with the pre- and post-game interviews with coaches, players, with an occasional spot with the staff from the athletic department, as well as the parents of the players themselves. It was local TV at its finest!

College football is another league of its own. Thanks to the recent mandate that players of college football can actually receive some form of monetary keep, the game became competitive, especially for the bigger schools that live on the backbone of football. (Notre Dame University in South Bend, Indiana comes to mind!) And thanks to such channels as the many forms of ESPN that exist, as well as Fox Sports, other regional TV/Streaming networks, as well as ABC and Fox, gop up their schedules running college football on Friday nights and all day on Saturdays.

The NFL is perhaps the “name” of football. The various leagues out there will battle it out on the gridiron for the amusement of its many fans. Those fans know of the teams, the colors the teams stand for, and just about everything that really matters. In the dairy state of Wisconsin for instance, fans and even non-fans will don the colors of green and gold! Why? It’s been that way since anyone could remember. and why break a tradition? In Washington, DC, the team is still known as “The Washington Football Team”. Granted, it’s a rather clunky title, and it doesn’t have the same sex appeal to something as “Bears”, “Lions”, and even “49ers”. But what did one expect from a district that is loaded with more government that ever?

Of course, leagues do come and go. Many a time there has been attempts to compete with the all-mightily National Football League with little to no success. In the middle 1970’s, there was the World Football League. Ten years later, The United States Football League (USFL) marched on and off the field. In the early 2000’s, the XFL–Xtreem Football League, wasn’t as extreme (xtreem?) as it could have been. And the most recent casualty was the Alliance of American Football League. Unlike the previous leagues, the AAFL has social media at its disposal where it would bring the team, the players, as well as the league itself up close and personal to its fans, or lack of them!

To get to know more about this latest football fumble, there is a documentary out there entitled Alliances Broken, written & directed by Steven Potter that illustrates in detail the real low-down on what happened to the league that never really made it, even being called “The Fyre Festival of Sports”! (Alliances Broken is now available for viewing on digital platforms. Check the program guides for the streaming video carriers for more details!)

Whatever the case, there will be plenty to view on whatever device one uses to see video content. Although the Pandemic (Yep, it’s still here!) isn’t as bad as it was let’s say a year ago this time, folks are still a bit scared to get out among the crowds of people. Perhaps this will be another excuse to watch football safe from others between now and February, when he Super Bowl makes its return back to Los Angeles, close enough to the Hollywood elite that tends to hang around a game that really matters. But until then, just dust off the ol’ pigskin, have plenty of snacks handy, make sure the beverages are nice ‘n cold (or hot if one is watching outdoors where the weather can get a bit nippy), and enjoy!

Even if you are not a fan, then it’s there to amuse and/or confuse! As they say, it’s only a game!!

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