Last Updated on February 29, 2024

While watching some of the Dallas Cowboys wild card game with my husband I asked him about some of the finer points of the game. I understand the basics of scoring and the role of key players like the quarterback, but how do they determine where field goals are kicked, how does the wild card system work, and what is the backfield anyway? And I still have no idea what the secondary is.

Then I began pondering another question.

What is the draw of football for men?

When I asked him, my husband said it’s the competition, the physicality, and the aggressiveness of the game. It sounded so brutal. Not at all what I expected him to say.

Thinking further I understand more what he meant and as a result I have a few theories as to why men love football.

Like the relentless pounding of surf on the beach, football keeps coming back. Every year. It’s as predictable as the changing seasons. At the same time every year. It’s something we can count on no matter what happens in the economy or who is living in the White House.

I think the fact that the game has so many rules is part of its appeal. Loyal followers know the rules, understand why the rules are there, and count on them being enforced fairly. The rules change very little from year to year which brings continuity to the game. When a foul is called one team may feel it was unfair, but within a matter of minutes or less, it is accepted and the game continues. No lawsuits in federal court, no changing of the rules so the offending team gets off the hook, no recount of votes, and rarely any kind of fight or scandalous accusations. The players understand the rules and play by the rules. Done.

And because the rules are followed, the games finish in a reasonable time frame. And most importantly, there is always a clear winner and loser. No one worries about the feelings of the losing team. It’s what they signed up for and it’s part of the game. And our men who love the sport love that sure outcome because most of life is not so clearly defined.

Men today are confused about their roles as men. They are built to be competitive, to aggressively protect (not the quarterback, but their families and communities and country), but they live in a world so afraid of being offensive, so fearful of being sued that they are constantly worried that they will be held back.

A holding penalty is when a player literally grabs an opponent and holds him so he can’t do his job. And a lot of men today feel that way—they’re being held back.

To be sure, there are plenty of unsavory aspects to the game, but the good outweighs the bad. In this confusing, shifting world of ours, the predictable sport of football gives our men a respite: a place to watch men exercise their God-given aggressive, physical, competitive natures with self-control under the watchful eye of a higher authority—the coaches and refs.

They love watching men be men. It’s a microcosm of what the world should be like.

I think it’s why I like football, too.

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  1. Well said! I so enjoyed this post and it should be required reading for all wives this time of year! I enjoy watching hubby's emotions during a game -that's a "show" in itself! Tracey (FamilyLife MomBlog)

  2. I can understand the football completely, especially since it is seasonal! However, I am a wife a GAMER! There is not a season, just the constant draw to hunt, find, and shoot down an opponent! We recently had the conversation that his gaming was squeezing us out of the picture! He was spiritually suffocating himself and his family. He doesn’t play as much as he use to but it is a constant battle. I told him that about a year ago i realized that I spending my time on facebook, hours and hours of time. I deleted my account and found that for the first several months I often wondered how others were doing. However, now I don’t even think about it. I find myself enjoying more of my life rather than wishing I could have some of the things my other “past-life” friends have. I tried to explain to him that if he would fast from the gaming until he didn’t have a desire for it that he would be able to go play every once in a while but it wouldn’t consume his life. He said that he would always want to play. He couldn’t see what a couple of months would do to change his desire. Honestly, during our conversation we got to the point where we both realized that he literally enjoys playing that game more than spending time with me or our children. However, he couldn’t say it in so many words and he still isn’t willing to do anything about it. Now, I know I have made him out to be this very selfish person and he can be (admittingly) but he is also a very wonderful husband that is committed to us and our spiritual growth. I honestly feel like this is his addiction, his “pornography”. In a blog called Xboxing I feel like the mom that through the games out the window. There are some days where I just want to take both of our tvs and all the DVD players, DVDs, games, and game systems and through them outside and take a sledge hammer to them. Kind of like the guy did in Fireproof. That would be so rejuvenating!!

  3. barbara rainey says:

    thanks for your comment. my husband also likes to hunt in the fall and in the spring so football isn’t his only interest. i remember when my son was a junior in high school and i discovered that his goal in life was to play and have fun. and it was a serious goal. i was truly shocked. he did not get that genetic wiring from me!
    sounds like you and your husband are working through this vast difference in who you each are in a healthy way. growing is a life time process and being committed to that unity in your marriage is more important than the ongoing challenges we all wrestle with.