The Importance of Pre-season Football

For reasons unknown, but mostly because I’ve been conditioned over the years to watch just about anything, I turned on the boobtube just in time to catch the last quarter and a half of the thrilling pre-season game between the Seahawks and the Broncos. The game was tied 6-6.

A real barnburner.

By the time I tuned in, it was incumbent upon the third stringers to liven up the game. In the end the Seahawks prevailed 22 to 14. The high point-assuming such a thing exists in a practice game-was noted Broncos bust Paxton Lynch sticking it to his former team by scoring 2 touchdowns, one passing, one running.

As in all sports, there is something deeply ironic and pathetic in a feat such as Mr. lynch’s, which in no way mitigates how poorly he played in Denver, nor serves notice of his impending greatness in Seattle where he will be, assuming he makes the team, holding a clipboard and supporting “I’m not going anywhere” Russell Wilson. For all we know, he may be soon doing what all such busts do, which is dissolve into the faceless crowd with the rest of us.

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of pre-season football is that it is, essentially, a series of scrimmages between teams for the sole purposes of marginal player evaluation and to acclimate players to the rigors of the game now that teams no longer have a traditional pre-season camp where they beat the hell out of one another. There is also the time honored tradition of gouging the public for the sake of watching a meaningless game.

Personally, I know of no one who will one day fondly reminisce of a pre-season touchdown, by a player whose name escapes them, scored in the mists of time.

Perhaps it’s practice for the fans too.

An added frivolity of pre-season football, minus the players we will instantly forget, is the joy at seeing what the NFL rules committee will do this season to make the game even more unwatchable. Returning to the ironic, it is there in spades as we watch player upon player penalized for lowering his head after years of being trained to do just that. It may be that the NFL is serious in mitigating the scourge of brain injuries plaguing former players, but it may be its way of covering its ass or simply to make the game even more incomprehensible.

Does it sound as if I’m souring on the game?

It’s possible.

Some of this stems from watching a meaningless touchdown in a practice game celebrated as if it were the winning score in the Super Bowl. I don’t mind celebrations in games that count, even if they sometimes are a little over top, but, to quote Allen Iverson: “…We’re’ talking about practice!”

That the Clink, as the Seahawks home field is “affectionately” known, was filled with paying fans to watch a practice game is indicative of our spectator culture and possibly a commentary on the dreariness of the rest of our lives. I understand the allure: I was once there myself, but as coverage has blown all out of proportion to the game itself, I’ve backed off.

It’s only a practice game.

And sadly, for the abysmal Mariners, it’s also much more popular.

©2019 David William Pearce

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