American Football – and they say Cricket is Boring

Would it be fair to say that American Football is a slower sport than test cricket? I realise that may be a bit of a random question coming from me, but this morning, out of pure curiosity I thought I would watch last night’s superbowl. I had never seen an American Football match in full before, and wanted to see what it was about. Long ago, back at uni, Ricardio used to have his drama group play American Football as part of their warm up, from where I knew the basics: it is a rather chess-like game, with a strong tactical element. It’s also much more start/stop than football (soccer) with play continuing in spurts rather than flowing continuously. The way it was comprised of planned out plays made me wonder whether it could be reminiscent of test cricket, made up of balls and overs.

With that in mind, I started watching the Superbowl on Iplayer earlier this morning. At first, I began to get into it; but then, three minutes into the match or even less, the play was halted and the Beeb cut back to the studio (presumably in America this is where adverts would be). It soon became clear that this would continue for the whole event: we would only see snippets of action before it was interrupted, and four fifteen minute quarters would be stretched over three hours. I know people call cricket slow-paced and boring, but this struck me as ridiculous: in tests, you get a ball every minute or two, but in American football there was far more studio time than actual sport.

It’s strange: I have the patience to watch and appreciate a four or five day long cricket match, but an hour long American football match struck me as tedious. I don’t think it was the sport itself, which still strikes me as quite tactical, as much as the way in which play was interrupted every few seconds for overlong breaks. In fact, I got as far as the third quarter before I lost patience: about 35 to 40 minutes into the match and I’d had enough. Mind you, whereas in a soccer match that would be just before half time, I had already watched over two hours of the program to reach that point. I really can’t see how so many people can be so enthralled by American football when so much of the time dedicated to it is wasted.

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