Obligatory Super Bowl post

by nkronos on February 6, 2011

My sports watching has diminished since school and college, so that I haven’t seen a Super Bowl in several years. And although my second favorite team growing up (after the Dolphins) was Green Bay, I won’t be watching this one either. As the Internet has challenged TV as America’s true favorite distraction, national events like the Super Bowl don’t hold the unifying power they once did.

Still, just as in the 70s and 80s urban legends told of incredible city-wide plumbing problems caused by all the simultaneous flushing of commodes occurring at half-time, tonight may be one evening when cable is again used for what it was designed to deliver more than high-speed Internet access.

So to pay homage to TV’s night of eyeball dominance, consider this statistic from last year’s Wall Street Journal: the average football game has only 11 minutes of actual action.

Watching a game has always felt that way, hasn’t it? It help explains the almost non-existent overlap between fans of American football and international soccer, with its emphasis on non-stop movement. Football and baseball are for people who like to converse while they watch sports and rehash the play afterward, before prognosticating on what will happen next. John Madden would have collapsed in a tongue-tied, magic-marker-waving heap had he ever tried to do color for the Final Four.

Something else to think about that one can derive from that WSJ stat: The NFL Players Association says the average career of an NFL player is 3.3 seasons. In a typical season, then, the player will actually be playing only 88 minutes (16 games X 11 minutes X 1/2, as players typically play only offense or defense). In his entire career, then, the average NFL player does something to affect his team’s fortunes for 290 minutes, or not quite five hours.

Of course there’s all the practice, so that’s not the entire job. But it does give you some perspective on making every play count.

Like Barry Sanders did.

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