America, it’s time to abolish the field goal!
A few days ago, I was an eyewitness to an event that was shameful, reprehensible, and quite frankly, unholy. I am sure that it might even be an unnatural act and illegal in many of the lower 48 states. After the incident — and even after a long hot shower — I felt used, cheap and quite frankly, dirty. After I calmed down, I thought of calling “the authorities” and filing some sort of complaint but then thought better of the matter. I did vow to myself to call my attorney in the morning and report the incident, however.
The event to which I refer was a football game in which all of the scoring was by way of eight field goals. Eight of ‘em, for godsakes! Field goals! Eight! Hell, it might as well have been … well … soccer! You can be sure, gentle reader, that this was not football the way that God and Peyton Manning intended it to be played.
Specifically, on the night in question, despite an endless number of trips by both teams up and down the gridiron, there had been no touchdowns scored extremely late into the fourth quarter. Not one. Nada. Nyet. As the game clock neared 01:30 and sensing that Bear Bryant himself was turning over in his grave, I had the urge to go down on the field and settle matters by grabbing the football and running it across the goal line myself. However, my better judgment prevailed. (I was also being physically restrained by friends and family). I know that I was not the only disillusioned fan in the stadium because I saw, with very my own eyes, at least twenty or thirty other fans being restrained by their family and friends from rushing onto the field.
The defensive players participating in the game (I shall not name the specific teams for fear of causing them further embarrassment) were an enthusiastic lot and played with what I once heard a head coach call “controlled abandon.” The offensive players, all of whom I am sure came from good families, must’ve thought that it was the form of misguided “football” being played throughout Europe and the rest of the world, not the American brand of the game and certainly not in the way that we of the American Deep South expect. (I hope that someone pulled these underachievers aside after the game, got their attention and said, “Boys, we don’t cotton to that kind of thing around here. We’ll excuse it this one time, but don’t let it happen again.)
The irony in the whole thing for me is that I have been warning people about “the suspicious and nefarious” nature of the field goal for years. I’d always practiced what might be termed “safe TV football watching.” I have always tried to be aware of my football surroundings, as it were, staying out of tough offensive neighborhoods as one might say. Then, when I let my guard down least expecting it, something like this happens! (Yeah, yeah, I know, it could happen to anybody, in any family but dammit by all that is right and holy, not me, not mine!)
When any right thinking American contemplates “the notion of the field goal” — i.e. awarding a team a “half a touchdown” for kicking a ball through the goal posts — it is easy to see that the whole idea is just plain wrong-headed. The “act” bears absolutely no relation to the rest of the game. One might even view the field goal as the equivalent of throwing a caution flag over the drivers and injecting a spelling bee into a NASCAR race, declaring the winner of a baseball game by means of a cook-off, or determining the winner of a basketball game with a spirited academic debate over, say, the public option in health care. Most importantly, the field goal is just boring as hell! (There is little doubt that the referee’s signal for a successful field goal, instead of the triumphant shoving of the arms toward the heavens, should instead be a shrugging of the shoulders, upturned palms and a facial expression that says, “It beats me. I’m just doing the best I can.”)
For years, I’ve waited for Ralph Nader to take on the cause — but to no avail. Unfortunately for us long suffering football fans, Ralph has shown absolutely no interest in the issue. I assume that he is still preoccupied with trying to screw up elections. Not even that Nancy Grace will return my phone call on this. I guess that she’s too busy minding everybody else’s business or playing the media game of “Piling On.” I guess then it is just up to an ordinary citizen, such as your writer, to speak out about injustice and wrongdoing.
As an adult, I have come to understand that the innate and sometimes seemingly genetic inability to score touchdowns is the kind of thing that can happen to anyone’s team. However, my feeling as a lifelong football fan is that kind of thing should be kept behind closed doors — maybe in a back bedroom — and not paraded around in public where it can be seen by God and everybody. Field goals reward the bungling of the current ongoing drive toward the goal line by giving the inept an opportunity to escape the errors of their ways.
Of course, one of the problems with abolishing the field goal is what do you do with all of the people presently employed as kickers? While I have it on good authority that most kickers come from France, in these days of high employment, I am not proposing their outright deportation (although I know a few head coaches who would like to use this option). Maybe a program of kicker amnesty might be considered. They could pay a small fine, do community service, go through rehabilitation and then job retraining, taking jobs — such as wide receivers or perhaps hot dog vendors. One possible alternative is send them off to convents in much the same way as young girls of the 1950s who were “in trouble.” One of the possible alternatives is to take all of the kickers from NFL teams and form a completely new franchise nickname the “Culprits” or possibly the “Goats.”
In the event of a tie, the game can go into overtime. If the contest is still tied at the end of one OT period, then team captains can engage in an activity that is more appropriate to the game such as a fist fight or tag team wrestling.
By abolishing the field goal from football, we will save money on footballs lost into the crowd and, heck, you wouldn’t even need goal posts anymore. I don’t know what college students would tear down anymore after a particularly stunning upset victory but I am sure they could work out something!
Please write your Congressman and ask him to pass the necessary legislation to abolish the field goal once and for all so that what happened to me and a few thousand other brave Americans doesn’t happen ever again. It doesn’t have to be this way. The time for football reform is upon us now. Abolish the field goal now.
As Barry Goldwater would’ve said, “In your heart, you know I’m right.”
© Copyright 2009 Will Cantrell