The 2012 Olympics have come to an end in London. While much of the buzz surrounding the Games has focused on Michael Phelps, Ussain Bolt and the “Fab Five”, a special segment of sports broadcasts everywhere in the this great country have thrown around one topic: If and when football might be added to the Olympics.
Annalists from ESPN, NFL Network and other news outlets have, half in jest and half in earnest, gone back and forth about how realistic the possibility might be of the International Olympic Comity adding America’s favorite pastime to the Games. The classic arguments have been thrown around: who would America play? Would enough countries participate? How could this affect the NFL regular season? Seems pretty straightforward right?
Not so much.
The International Federation of American Football currently has 64 federations across the globe, more than enough to be recognized by the IOC. And considering that the Super Bowl continuously breaks viewing records, I find it hard to believe that Ping-Pong, rhythmic gymnastics and badminton command more national attention than the number one sport in the sports capital of the world. And as for Olympic parity, this year the U.S. won 104 medals while 18 other countries only took away one medal each. No, on further examination, the conventional arguments fall flat. And yet, while I will be the first one out in the streets waving a giant American flag if football does one day become part of the Games, I believe that there is one thing that will keep football out of the Olympics.
Football is a confrontational, vicious game where only a few officials and their rulebooks are all that prevent this game from erupting into an all-out brawl between gigantic men with borderline criminal mentalities. Football is a sport about dominating your opponent physically and mentally and then leaving him humiliated while he watches you dance in the end zone. It is an “in your face” pass time that is truly American.
This is a mentality that is very opposed to the proposed, politically correct spirit of the Olympics. One need look no further for an example of this than the slight uproar caused by the Nike shirts that the U.S. Women’s soccer team donned after winning the gold medal match. The simple white shirts, not unlike ones that might be handed out after a Super Bowl or National Championship, had the phrase, “Greatness has been found” emblazoned on them. Seems innocent enough right? The team triumphed over reigning World Cup champions Japan and truly achieved something great on one of sport’s biggest stages. So why are writers from SI.com, Yahoo and the New York Times making a big deal about it?
Because the Olympics are not like every other sporting event.
The ancient Greeks first started the Games as a time when nations would stop their conflicts and come together for a time of peace and unity at the Olympics. That notion still holds true to some extent today. It is that notion that allows a country to send only two gymnasts to the all-around competition rather than take the top scorers regardless of nationality.
Football flies in the face of that feeling of “global togetherness” that the Olympics seek to create. It is about two teams flying at each other, pumped on adrenaline and emotion, with only one rising from the field, while the other limps back to the locker room, tail between its legs. It is a hardnosed, gritty atmosphere and that is why we love it. But that is also why football will remain only ours to love.
Now it maybe that I am wrong and that one day we will see Cam Newton, Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III stand atop the medal stand with their teammates as the Star Spangled Banner resounds through a stadium. And if that day ever comes, I will gladly renounce ever thinking it could be otherwise. But until then, we must content ourselves with watching “the youth of the world” compete every four years while our heroes of the gridiron continue their Sunday dominance.