Reporter’s Notebook: Why Men Watch Football

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What is it that excites men about football? What’s the big attraction? Why is it that some men will sit down for three, six, or even nine hours in front of a TV set when football is on, yet they won’t sit still for more than 15 minutes for anything else when they’re home?

Why MenThose are the questions posed by a former protege of mine, Bob Andelman, 20 years ago when he authored the book, Why Men Watch Football: A Report from the Couch. Now there is a 20th Anniversary edition, newly available in digital form. Good for you Bob.

He interviewed dozens of football fans, sportscasters, sports psychologists, psychiatrists and sociologists to get to the root of the question, why do men watch football? Among the reasons (or excuses):

  • Rites of passage
  • The hometown connection
  • Winning by association
  • Hero worship
  • The military connection
  • Acting out a primal instinct
  • The allure of numbers
  • An urge to gamble
  • The great escape

Bob, who has had a successful career as author and podcaster Mr. Media took the time to answer a couple of questions for me

Since you wrote the book 20 years ago what strikes you as the greatest change in why guys watch football?

Andelman: “Good question. I think that the dramatic increase in video quality — high def and even 3D television — has only heightened our connection to action happening hundreds or even thousands of miles away. The action is so real in HD, it really is like being there.”

Speaking of technology, where does social media fit in?

Andelman: “Similar to the rapid speed of HD, social media’s connection to football means instant community with fellow fans, whether we’re all checking in at the stadium on Foursquare or while watching on TV via GetGlue or Facebook. We can share our view of a bad call or a thrilling reception with a million strangers at the touch of a smartphone.”

Smart guy. He also did his homework on this project uncovering:

  • The fan who loved the Colts so much that he followed them from Baltimore to Indianapolis;
  • The Packers fan known as “The Brow”;
  • The Bucs fan who got so frustrated with the team’s losing ways he broke a Soloflex bench by pounding on it with nothing but his fists;
  • The Dolphins fan who postponed cancer surgery so as not to interfere with watching the team on TV;
  • The Giants fan who follows his team on the road and throws regular home game tailgate parties for 80 of his closest friends

Andelman picks apart the male psyche the way Tom Brady and Peyton Manning read defenses. Why Men Watch Football: A Report from the Couch is worth a read now or even after the season. It’s available at Amazon.

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