I haven’t always loved football. If you read “Lee’s Guide to Football,” included in OOP and IP both, you’ll get a pretty good sense of how I came to appreciate the game. I’m still not a huge fan of the parts that involve immense guys slamming into each other, but I can appreciate that it’s more than that, that the two lines are working as part of their team’s strategy, which is basically to buy time or make space for something good to happen.
It’s hard to appreciate them when the other feats are so flashy: the running back who cuts through the hole and then outraces everyone else to the end zone; the receiver who makes a leaping grab and lands with both feet just in bounds; the quarterback reading the blitz and dumping the ball off to the open man, or just running around the blitz as Tim Tebow did for Denver a week and a half ago against the Jets. There might not be any of those plays in a game, but usually, usually there are. Because football is young men at the peak of their athletic ability pushing each other to do the best they can, and that pushing is very similar to the pushing that well-suited partners do in a relationship. That’s one reason that, for me, football worked better as the focus of a relationship book than would baseball, or soccer, or perhaps any other sport except basketball (which would be good as it is played more intimately with less clothing).
One of the things I’m really glad about is that many people have written to tell me that they appreciate football just a little bit, or a little bit more, because of OOP/IP. It’s not that I’m some sort of evangelist for the game. I just think that understanding something is better than not understanding it, and it gives you something more to talk about with friends and family besides.