Chronic Lack of Analysis Leads Most Fans to be Football Idiots

Let's face it: most people are not very smart. This is a scientifically true statement, not a matter of opinion or fluctuating standard. The bell curve of distribution says that people of exceptional intelligence are in the minority in any given population, just like the minority of people with exceptionally low intelligence. This is even more painfully true when dealing with football fans.

Football is an extremely complex sport. It involves many moving pieces both on and off the field, as well as a mental aspect that goes far beyond other sports, and definitely far beyond the average fan. Because the average fan is...well, average.

People of average intelligence generally don't have or practice the analytical skills needed to truly understand a professional football team. This is immediately apparent in 99 percent of football conversations around the water cooler/bar. Tony Romo sucks. The defense sucks. Garret sucks. If they lose, they suck. If they win, they're all right. But really, to see why a football team lost or won a game, you have to be able to break the team down into its component parts and evaluate each element according to appropriate criteria. And again, most people don't have the mental faculties or even just the basic motivation to do this kind of mental work.

I'm a third-generation Cowboys fan, and I've been having conversations about the Cowboys with many different kinds of people from around this country (and other countries) my entire adult life. Even my friends who are supposedly Cowboys fans are victims of these statistics. I've met very few football fans (of ANY team) who could even name the starting players on both sides of the ball. And don't even try to talk about coaches. Personnel is such a vital component of football at the pro level, and the average Dallas fan will not even know the difference between Anthony Spencer and George Selvie. The average fan will not know what a "scheme" is, or even what goes on in a huddle before the teams line up. They certainly don't understand option routes or blitz pick ups. When a quarterback throws an interception because a linebacker blitzed and the slot receiver didn't run a hot route, all the TV viewing audience sees is the ball going the other way while they boo and slosh their beer around.

And what's amazing to me is, I guess because football is such a tradition in this country (especially Texas), that the average fan is in total denial about his or her almost complete ignorance of a game they have been watching their entire life. Here are the basic criteria I've figured out that my idiot fan friends use to judge teams: Touchdowns good. Interceptions bad. Wins good. Losses bad. Everything else...the vastness of the game that they don't understand, is pretty much irrelevant to them. Which is sad because the complexity of this game is why I love it so much.

So the next time I enter those same old, tired conversations with my friends, friends' friends, and coworkers about how they like the team, but don't like Tony Romo or how they hate Jerry Jones, and he's the reason they get so many penalties or, God forbid, how dating Jessica Simpson caused Romo to fumble the field goal hold against Seattle...I will just smile and let their stupid remarks bounce off my face, maybe give them a statistic or two to try to wrap their heads around, and go about my business secure in the knowledge that I *do* know the difference between Barry Church and Danny McCray, and that Terrance Williams is a rookie, and that Brian Waters is out for the season.

"Who's Brian Waters?" a guy asked me at the bar the other day. Oh, you know...just another Cowboy.

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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