Isolation Play T-4

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.

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2 Responses to Isolation Play T-4

  1. Buck Hopper says:

    You baited me with this posting, KG-2. Thanks for the shout out to basketball. But I agree your choice was the best one for your books. Basketball is best when it’s played with tight teamwork, but with the small size of the teams, it’s a sport where a single overperforming player can dominate. What’s fantastic about football is how teamwork is mandatory. No matter how spectacular a wide receiver might be, he won’t ever see the endzone without a great quarterback and strong defenders to protect his route. And that dependance on the team is what makes Dev’s story so strong. There’s no option in football to let a defender fall behind– everyone needs everyone, and that’s what helps drive the drama.

    And the fact that you haven’t always loved football makes you an even better writer for these stories. I have no doubt that by earning your love of the sport, you’re sensitive to those who aren’t familiar, and uniquely capable of explaining it to them. A rabid, lifelong fan would have trouble understanding how to reach someone totally inexperienced, but your books let the reader feel the sport without having to spend six years watching ESPN.

    And by the way– thank you for doing it. :) Furry and sports go hand-in-hand, in my mind. No other corner of American society is as open to cartoon character logos and fursuiting as sports. It’s amazing to me how few in this fandom are active sports fans given that.

    • Administrator says:

      Yeah, I was kinda thinking you might feel the need to reply to this. ^^ Thanks for the thoughtful comment! I do think that having to learn to like football makes it easier for me to explain to other people, and you really hit the nail on the head with that explanation of teamwork being necessary to it. I think hockey and soccer, to a certain extent, also require that, although there are definitely star players who can carry a soccer team (in the goal or out).

      The interesting thing about basketball is that a good team can neutralize an opposing star. But basketball teams are so small that in order for Dev to be necessary to the team, he would have to be a star, if not a superstar. I mean, if Dwyane Wade comes out as gay, he’d be embraced. He’s a superstar and a well-loved one. If Mike Miller comes out as gay, likely he won’t be on the Heat roster next year (if he is still). The line between “franchise player” and “role player” is starker in basketball than it is in football, where so many players do great work without publicity or fame. If in 2003, one of the Patriots’ offensive linemen had come out, there’s no way the team would’ve gotten rid of him–unless it was messing with the team chemistry. That was a solid, all-pro bunch of guys. And football is full of those guys, those talented people who just go to work every day (practice or game) and do their job well without having Fatheads made of them. Valuable but not famous: that’s the niche I was aiming for, and I think football is really unique in having a ton of people who fit that bill.