The landscape of America is constantly changing. Families start to lose their traditions as the kids get older, while starting new ones of their own. As a country we now seem to be quick to judge and protest instead of adhering to ďinnocent until proven guiltyĒ. Heck, even country music and hockey in Los Angeles have made substantial gains over the last decade. This is just a snippet of the kind of things we start to see as we continue on this great journey of life.
And then there is football.
The National Football League has done a remarkable job over the last fifteen years positioning themselves to take over baseball and become our national pastime. This pains me to say as I am a ďbaseball firstĒ kind of person. I share the same passion for all things baseball in the same way my colleague Gary Armida describes it so very well in this column. The hidden beauty within the game of baseball is what makes us thrive for more, even after watching a fifteen inning game that has lasted nearly five hours.
Granted, I canít sit on my couch and watch an entire game from start to finish like I once did when I was carefree without responsibility. Well, I can, but with two daughters under the age of eight I find myself watching most of my games on a slight DVR delay. With a game occurring nearly every single night between April and October it becomes hard to catch all the action, especially if you are living the family life.
This is one of the many reasons people are drawn to the NFL. With a sixteen game schedule that is played predominately on Sundays, each game becomes more of an event. For game days youíre likely to find me and the family over at a place like Buffalo Wild Wings to watch at least a half of football (thatís usually as long as the two-year-old will give us at a booth until she starts to unravel). The atmosphere of people coming together on NFL Sunday and the electricity it brings is something you donít really see from baseball until they hit the playoffs.
One of the biggest reasons for the success of the NFL has been fantasy football. It has gotten to the point where Iím now surprised if somebody doesnít have a fantasy team in some shape or form. When you hear chattering around the office from people (men and women) who couldnít tell you what city the Titans play in but want advice on who to draft in the third round, you know youíve tapped into the mainstream market.
Fantasy football keeps people interested not only in their favorite team, but also in the players around the NFL. Fans have a reason to follow the action from the first game all the way until the final game on Monday night. Sure, baseball has fantasy leagues too, but again we go back to the sixteen game schedule in the NFL. To maintain a fantasy baseball team in the right way one needs to check and set their lineup on a daily basis for over six months. As opposed to once a week for football.
There are three reasons why I travel to San Diego to watch a game. For one, we donít have a team in Los Angeles. Secondly, to support one of my two favorite teams (my other favorite team is the St. Louis Rams Ė still loyal after all these years). Finally, for the pregame experience of tailgating.
Dodger Stadium hasnít allowed tailgating for at least the last fifteen years. If you were to crack open a beer you would find yourself surrounded by the SWAT team within fifteen seconds. As a devoted Dodger fan I still find myself at Angels Stadium for at least one game a year just so we can fire up the barbecue and enjoy a little tailgating. Tailgating is more than drinking. Itís about spending time outside with friends and family. Something we are seeing less and less of as the years go on.
Tailgating before an NFL game is an experience. Itís half the fun of actually attending a game and one of the main reasons why fans look forward to attending a game. With the quality of both the television and internet broadcasts improving on a year-to-year basis, the NFL needs to continue improving the in stadium experience.
Baseball is a wonderful sport, but our society doesnít have the attention span of being able to hang through three hour games, for 162 games a season. Kids arenít out there collecting baseball cards and parents are not setting aside the time to play catch with little Jimmy or Jenny in the backyard like they once did. Fans are drawn to the NFL for various reasons, but all of those reasons are what makes the sport of football so great.
Baseball is always going to have a sentimental spot in the heart of America, but football has supplanted it as our national pastime.
Joe Chacon is a Staff Writer for Operation Sports and a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @JoeChacon.
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