Gringo Manaba

Adventuras y Fantasias or Fantastical Adventures


Mission Impossible

Posted by glasscastle on January 27th, 2004

his better judgment, the Dowbrigade has agreed to attempt one of the
toughest tasks he has tackled in his entire teaching career – explaining
NFL Football to a class of foreign college students who don’t know a
forward pass from an actionable offense. We tried to avoid it, having
ventured there before, but they begged.

The job, from a didactic point of view, is somewhat akin to teaching
quantum mechanics to a school
of fish. And, of course, they need to know it by Sunday.

It is not that the subject matter is THAT complicated, although on this
New Hampshire Primary night it is appropriate to note that Sen. Eugene
McCarthy once said "Being in politics is like coaching Professional Football
– you need to be smart enough to understand the game and dumb enough
to think it matters." This is not the problem; all of my students (3
Japanese, a Korean, 2 Thais, a Brazilian and a Saudi) are smart and well-educated.
But not a one of them has ever seen a single play of a single game, in
person or on television.

The problem is that their old Professor here tends to go off on wild
tangents when addressing the subject of Pro Football.  One minute
we are explaining the line of scrimmage, and the next we’re waxing lyrical
as a Metaphor for Post-Industrial Cultural Domination, or decrying the
racial inequity in football upper management, or obsessively spouting
obscure statistics like points scored off of turnovers or average yards
per penalty.

When we come to our senses, the students are staring at us like we’ve
started foaming at the mouth, and are no closer to understanding the
intricacies of the Great American Game than they were before we began.
Believe us, we’ve been there before.

But not this time!  We’re going to keep it simple this time, stick
to the basics, maintain distance and decorum.  To that end, we have
discovered an entertaining site, Football Basics, from the NFL
for Kids web site
.  It explains everything!  With funny
animated cartoon players demonstrating the different positions, the equipment,
the rules
of the game. Now if we can only remember to avoid the topic of instant
replay entirely.  And the tuck rule.  And the point spread…..