Gregg Easterbrook is a Blowhard

I could pretend to make up stuff on why the Bears lost on Sunday, but it was pretty simple. The Bears lost for the following reasons (rank as you see fit):
- They were out played
- Grossman sucked in the second half
- They didn't run the ball enough
- The Defense couldn't stop the Colts on third and long to save their life
- The Bears got out coached on special teams, even though they outplayed the Colts special teams
- The Bears go out coached in general.

I'm sure there's more, but the Bears didn't play well on Sunday. Some how this is a bit easier to take than if they were one play away from winning.

And one more thing, Peyton Manning did not win the Super Bowl for the Colts. The fact that he was named MVP just goes to show how much the media loves him. Manning wasn't amazing or anything along those lines. He played well. That's it. He looked bad at the beginning of the game, calmed down, and didn't do anything to cost his team the game. But it wasn't like Peyton was zipping balls in all over the field. All he did was dump the ball off to the running backs and let them run for five yards. Big deal.

Enough of that... let's move on to Gregg "Two Gs are better than one" Easterbrook (aka, TMQ) who wrote the biggest pile of shit I've ever read in my life. It's not Skip Bayless pointless or Jay Mariotti "see which way the wind is blowing and then say it's blowing the other direction" type column. Rather it's some sort of mythical fantasy-land "the NFL and America will make the world a better place!" piece where I couldn't believe what I was reading. I'll break it down nice and quickly (here's the full piece here):

Football is on its way to becoming more important than it already is, though for reasons that might surprise you... The popularity of American-style football is likely to grow internationally – gridiron is taking off in Mexico at the moment, for instance.

This is an odd thing to say for two reasons:
1) Yes the NFL is huge in the US, but one has to wonder how much more of a market exists for the NFL. Pretty much every male I know follows the NFL in some shape or form. The Super Bowl is watched by 1/3 of the nation. In other words, there aren't many more people in the United States that are going to start following the NFL unless you are someone that believes every single person in the United States is a potential NFL consumer (I'll lay it down quickly, that's not realistic). Is there room for growth? Yes, but it's some what marginal since the NFL would have to do something I suggested the other day - expanding the schedule. This makes a lot of sense for the NFL. The only problem is that by expanding the schedule, it would make it much more difficult for the NFL to fix the schedule so that teams that are not as talented (ie, good) to appear to be better than they are and make the postseason (since as we pointed out, the bad teams get to play the bad teams which means that one bad team is going to be better than the rest of the bad teams, this will cause them to win more games and make that team appear to be better than it is (imagine if the Devil Rays, Royals, Mariners, and Orioles played each other 12 times each and only the Tigers, Twins, Yankees, and A's 3 times and what that would do to the standings). But theNFL's thinking must be that if the bad teams had to play more games against teams that were good or okay, then the true colors of those bad teams would shine. They would not do as well finishing bellow .500 and thus there would be less incentive to go watch those games on TV or at the stadium (or so the thinking must be). This probably is bad logic considering that in Europe the football season there is twice as long as the NFL season, and aside from Italy, they still fill the stadiums and get good ratings on TV. Other than "football is a tough game" I don't see a reason not to expand the schedule since it benefits teams that are talented.

2) The bigger problem with a statement like what Easterbrook proclaims is that the NFL has attempted to expand into other markets and has not done so well. NFL Europe can be traced back to 1991 in five different European countries (if you count England and Scotland as separate countries). Today, the six league team has five German teams and one team located in the Netherlands (and that team will soon move to Germany). And I've yet to read about a European player who is playing in the NFL or even college football for that matter. The best way to judge a sport's impact and potential for growth is if people from other country are playing the game. It's pretty clear that almost no one outside of the United States plays American football. Meanwhile, attendance at these NFL Europe games are typical of your averageMLS franchise (almost 19,000 for NFL Europe) but TV deals were cancelled. Pretty much the only reason why NFL Europe exists is because it's a developmental league. The NFL is willing to write off the league's losses (I assume) in order to have some sort of presence outside of the United States no matter how marginal that presence may be. The fact that American football hasn't really caught on in Europe would totally defeatEastbrook's point of course. His point is that it's growing... but it isn't. Yes, the league has a decent following in Mexico. But as the New York Times wrote this weekend, it has has much less success in gaining popularity among Latins in the United States. This is a major problem for the NFL. Seeing that Latins are the largest racial minority in the United States and they are also the fastest growing, maybe just maybe the NFL is peaking as we speak.

So is there room for growth for the NFL? Yes, but mainly in the United States which is a saturated market as it is. American football has not translated well throughout most of the world, though. I don't have the answer for why this is... but my best guess is that it's too expensive for most of the rest of the world to play. And I don't think the commercials help either. If you come from a ruby playing nation and then watch a football game, you can't help but be amazed by all the stoppages in play.

Not only is football fun to watch and to play, most of the world continues to admire the United States and look up to us – it's our foreign policy the world disdains; the American dream remains beloved almost everywhere. As democracy expands and more nations liberalize, more nations will long to become like the United States. And since football resides near the core of American culture, more people internationally will want the sport. They will reason, "America is strong and free and prosperous, America loves football, maybe football somehow helps you become strong and free and prosperous."

It has been a while since I've read something as ignorant as this. Let's take it one at a time:
1) Most of the world admires the United States.
This is a loaded question and it is half true and half false. Do people want to move to the United States? So do yes, but this is usually only for economic reasons. People move to Europe for economic reasons. People from other countries move to Canada for economic reasons. Hell, people move to Chile for economic reasons (Peruvians and Bolivians move to Chile to attempt to build a better life for them and their family. Like Mexicans who come to work in the States, they send the money they make back home to Peru or Bolivia). This happens all over the world. There is no doubt, that the US economy is admired, but this does not make us any more admirable than the United Kingdom, Sweden, or Chile for that matter (depending on who's point of view you are coming from). I do agree with his American Dream statement, but as statical data is showing us, social and economic mobility, which is the cornerstone of the American Dream, is more attainable in Europe than the USA right now.
2) Expansion of Democracy
Overlooking the failure of democratization of Iraq (debatable I know) and the Middle East; this still isn't true. As the Economist pointed out late last year, the spread of democracy is stalling. The Middle East is the most obvious example. Most of Africa is not democratic and not becoming democratic any time soon unfortunately. Russia and many of the former Soviet republics are far from democratic. And the events in Thailand last year proved how fragile democracy really is. There have been great strides made in Latin America, but today Hugo Chavez is leading Venezuela away from democracy. Basically,Easterbrook is way off on this point.
3) More nations will long to be the United States
A lot like point one, but I'd like to add this. If this was so true, why don't we see citizens of the developed world knocking down the door of entry to the United States? Fact is, pretty much everyone is proud of who they are be it American, Brazilian, Mexican, Egyptian, English, Scottish, French, Chinese, Japanese and on and on. And people will not move unless they have a incentive or reason to do so (which as I said, is almost always economic in today's world). But even when they do, they still a prideful of their nation or home. America is almost living proof of this - we are obsessed with where we came from, who are ancestors were. And most people in the US are proud of their ancestry. This is why people fly Polish, Italian, Irish, Mexican, and other flags here in the US. Some governments* may strive to follow the US/French model of 18th century enlightenment and liberalism, but most people do not want to be American any more so than most Americans want to be English or Canadian or Jamaican. (*I stress some because it appears that much of the developing world have leaders than do not want to have a model that is based upon the US desire for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness).
4) They will reason, "America is strong and free and prosperous, America loves football, maybe football somehow helps you become strong and free and prosperous."
As I pretty much just laid out, this logic is incorrect.

Soon Congress might break the cartel arrangement by which only DirecTV can broadcast NFL Sunday Ticket, the paid service that allows a viewer to watch any game.

I'm with him on this one. Though I'm not sure DirecTV's control over Sunday Ticket is a cartel since it's only one provider. Usually cartels consist of more than one firm or organization.

For the past 60 years, large organizations have dominated the social structure of the West. Large organizations ask large numbers of people of diverse backgrounds to work together cooperatively. Football asks large numbers of people of diverse backgrounds to work together cooperatively.

True, but sadly like most large organizations in United States, the NFL is pretty much a good ole boys club that's dominated by rich, white males. I'm not sure this has lead to the popularity of the NFL though. I would venture to guess that the NFL has been so successful in expanding in post War America for two reasons:
1) It is a fantastic sport to watch on TV thanks to replay. Watching an NFL game on TV is often times much better than attending a game in person where you sit around picking your nose for most of the the three and a half hours.
2) Since its season is only 16 games long, it is easy to follow. The 'investment' to a NFL team or season is once a week for 17 to 21 weeks (or 22 since it takes two weeks to play the Super Bowl). Considering that the average NFL game seems to last three and a half hours and we'll say keeping up with your team during the week would take no more than 90 minutes, the NFL is only a time investment of 85 hours. Compared to baseball, where a team plays six days a week for 26 weeks now we're talking about a 546 hour investment (an average of 21 hours a week). In other words, following an NFL team is easy for most Americans. It doesn't take a lot to know a little about the team. In other words, the NFL is the sports equivalent of a one night stand. Quick, easy, and fun. There's no need to build a relationship since you'll be spending so little time together. This is why,imo , the NFL is more popular than anything else in American sport; there is little investment of time and therefore is easy to follow.

Oh and baseball could totally make the argument he lays out here about working together, people being behind the scenes, and communicating. And the NBA. And the NHL. And football, er, soccer. All sport is based on communication, gathering information, and applying that information. Teams that are able to gather that information and communicate to everyone on the team in an efficient and quick manner are successful. This is not unique to the NFL in any way, shape, or form. Every sport functions like this on some level. In fact, I would say that the level of communication is just asneccessary in football/soccer as it is in the NFL.

Now consider the direction in which the global economy is headed. In a global world, communication and interpersonal skills grow ever-more important. The explosion in communication, especially, means the successful person of coming decades must be able to cooperate with not just those in his or her immediate field of vision, but people all around the country and all around the world. Daily contact with people all around the country, if not all around the world, is the likely state of affairs for coming generations. Because sports are part of education, there will be rising emphasis on sports that teach interpersonal skills. And that points to more importance for football.

Obviously, Easterbrook believes that globalism is here to stay. History has shown that this might not necessarily be the case (war has nasty habit of breaking communication lines; see World War I). And it seems to me that even the Economist, the champion of free markets and globalism, is a bit worried about the future of globalism. A lot of people are being left behind in every part of the world (are factory workers or Rust Belt mayors fans of globalization? Probably not). History has shown that if you piss enough people off, tipping points occur, when a tipping point is reached, it's usually bad news for stability. Stability is a key ingredient in government, communication, and free markets. To assume that the world will continue down the path of globalization is wishful thinking. There was a time in the 20th century were it appeared that socialism was going to be the path of the future remember. All I'm saying is, don't count your chickens yet.

The ability to get along with others is more important to football than to any sport. Some star basketball players barely speak to their teammates. In football, even the most renowned star must be a good teammate and must interact constructively with everyone in the locker room down to the lowliest player, or the game simply cannot be won. There's a reason towns view the success of their high school football teams, and cities view the success of their NFL teams, as symbolizing the town's and cities' prospects – because football cannot happen unless large numbers of people get along. And we're entering a world in which it will matter more than ever that large numbers of people get along. Football teaches that very thing: So expect the sport to grow in importance.

Here's the problem, all team sports function like this... this idea is not unique to the NFL or American football in any way, shape, or form. All teams must get along in order to win. Or better yet, they must agree to get along while they are playing. Just as the people in an office must agree to work together in order to accomplish all their tasks. This is not a novel or even interesting idea. And to say that it is unique to the NFL is down right wrong. Easterbrook cites star basketball players not speaking to teammates, while this might be true, I'll go out on a limb that even if this is true, there does need to be some sort of understanding and communication between teammates, even if they hate each other. Shaq and Kobe come to mind and prove Easterbrook wrong right off the bat. The two of them pretty much hated the others guts, but they had an understanding and a level of communication on the court that propelled them to victory. There have been people that I worked with that I did not like personally, but I put aside my personal feelings towards them to work together to get everything done because it was a loteasier for me to get the work done than it was to fight these people every step of the way. Of course communication and team work are necessary... but to claim that this is unique to the NFL is flat out stupid. Journalists often speak of the defense and offense in an NFL locker room being separate identities. This raises the obvious question of whether NFL teams are as close knit asEasterbrook claim they are. And since neither Easterbrook or I have ever played in the NFL, we can't really settle this in any way.

He then goes on to write his normal column which is very interesting at times and makes him sound like a blowhard at others. I kind of wish he'd just go away.

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