Most of us have watched football since we were very small. As I recollect, there have always been Super Bowls, always been announcers who are more or less colorful, entertaining, informative or biased. Because I’ve never had direct connection to football, other than spending time with an NFL outside linebacker and his family in years past, my connection to football has been primarily determined by the company I kept.
There’s no magic here. Single women, except when in pursuit of one male target or another, rarely socialize at sports bars wearing team jerseys and swigging foot-long beer. But once we determine that our significant other has some degree of affection for football, we become aficionados, asking intelligent questions such as quarterback passing statistics or the alma mater of the place kicker.
For the most part, football is an acquired taste. Those females that have squirmy and/or motherly concerns about 300-pound beasts landing on each other may have some fun with the idea of changing the field on which football is played. Yes, there are good reasons for having fifty yards on each side. But just imagine what would happen to the viewing public and their responses if we moved the game to a shopping mall.
First we need to change the uniforms. For press identification if nothing else, we will have numbers on player backs. But instead of spandex, how about active wear? Pick a designer ‘” Bobby Brown, Ralph Lauren, Hugo Boss ‘” and place our sports figures in color-coordinated outfits with matching running shoes on the playing field. No helmets needed. We’ll develop some variation on flag football, to save mall floors and to protect the nylon/spandex/cotton finery.
Save the hard benches. We’ll install couches on both sides of the playing field, complete with cocktail tables and hot or cold hors d’oeuvres. Weather will never be a problem in an indoor mall but we vary the refreshments according to season. Iced tea and lemonade will be fine for pre-season and early fall, with hot buttered rum and cider later in the season.
Then we’ll have to modify the penalties. Instead of “roughing the passer,” we’ll have “Clothing disturbance,” with a personal foul penalty of fifteen yards. “Unsportsmanlike conduct” can remain but it will consist of escaping into one of the boutiques in the mall instead of staying on the field. We will also have to examine “holding,” with the possibility of replacing it with a “folding” penalty, one that occurs when purchases are unbagged and rebagged during playing time.
The nature of play will inevitably be impacted. We’ll still have four downs to go ten yards, but there may be socially desirable tasks necessary to achieve first down status. Because brutal physical contact won’t occur, players can achieve immediate first downs by donating canned goods to worthwhile causes, giving blood (from a vein) or autographing footballs for underprivileged kids.
On the other hand, players will lose possession of the ball for felonies or misdemeanors, lack of child support or in any way failing to display images of professionalism and integrity incumbent upon professional athletes. In fact, any of these charges will be accompanied by a personal foul, significant fine and ejection from the game.
My new game plan should attract new sponsors, reduce injuries and expand the viewing public. For those who enjoy the violence and brutality of traditional football, there will still be rugby, professional wrestling and of course, the shopping frenzy of Black Friday.