If you're an American human male between the ages of eight and 108, it's quite probable that you have, at the very least, a passing interest in American-style football. If you're a female in the same age bracket, you're also likely to enjoy the occasional pigskin matchup, too. Football addiction doesn't discriminate along gender lines. If you don't watch football, that's fine. Totally understandable. Worthy of applause, in fact. Someone out there has to cure cancer and read Proust, I suppose.
But for much of our football-consumed population, this weekend's college football kickoff is a time of transition from summer to something much, much lazier. We trade our sunscreen for sweatshirts, mojitos for canned beer, family time for bar time, chase lounges for couches, the glow of campfires for the flicker of your rich uncle's 97-inch high-definition plasma screen. We become first-down obsessed versions of our former selves and if you're in a fantasy league, you're probably just barely able to function in any sort of industrious capacity.
Football fans once followed the following schedule. A college game of their choosing on Saturday afternoon, maybe a prime time game, too, if nothing was going on that night. Then, they'd see the NFL team closest to their home play on Sunday. The next day, maybe some Monday Night Football, only because it was the only thing on and these nationally televised matchups were always exciting to the point of suspicion.
We still had lives and wives and kids and clean-shaved faces and living rooms that would never be in the running for coverage in the next season of Hoarders. Now, however, we have The Football Disease (TFD). Thanks to overzealous (or awesome if you're a TFD sufferer) television programming and publicity-hungry teams, there is now televised football steadily between Thursday afternoon and late Monday night, a phenomenon which gave way to TFD. There is only one cure and it's called February. That's a long ways off.
This weekend alone, while the NFL is still prancing around in their far-too-long preseason, you can take in college football, and several games a day if you have a speedy internet connection, daily from Thursday through Monday evening. And you have to think the NCAA or NFL is already pondering a Tuesday night football experiment, just to take advantage of the TFD-afflicted masses.
Our televised football was once consumed out of neatly packaged bottles in the joyous living room comfort of our friends and family. Now, however, the real football fans are boiling the sport on a rusty spoon and intravenously injecting themselves in dark basements where they roil in withdrawals whenever they're unable to see live footage of grown men smacking their helmeted heads together.
I have TFD, albeit a mild case, and I'll tell you how I know. On Thursday, September 29, South Florida will take on Pittsburgh at 5 p.m. and I will watch this, despite the facts that I cannot name a single player on either team, I consistently forget that South Florida is a Division I program and I feel that Pittsburgh is really only relevant in my mind because of their coach's moustache. If I could stop, I would. I'm sure my physical and mental health would improve, as would my ability to converse about things other than LaMichael James' yards per carry and Tim Tebow's future unemployment. I've tried. I really have. But then I'll walk past a television and suddenly realize that my very existence hinges on a Bowling Green vs. Toledo matchup playing on ESPN2.
But I have TFD. I can admit this. And maybe you should, too. We could meet together at a bar on Saturday afternoon and share our struggles.