I was raised on football (the 'merican kind), as in Green Bay Packers. I'm still a big fan, and the entertainment is better than ever (even if the Bongos got lucky last winter). There's no question that the center of American spectator gravity is on the couch, for a football game.
You can also be sure that the "American media have gotten the picture" and knows what sells the most beer, tacos and sport utility vehicles. The broadcast football game is a work of art. The game itself has 5 or 10 seconds of action per minute (15 seconds in a really good minute), but an incredible team of technologists keeps the color and replays and statistics bubbling for the other 55 seconds. Sometimes, there are committee meetings as half a dozen officials get to together to compare notes on what went wrong.
When we get close to the end of the game, and the action is actually packed more densely into "game time," the clock is slowed down in a relativistic way. We even get notice that we're reaching the event horizon: the two minute warning. Those last two minutes stretch so close to eternity, that the players themselves can sometimes do no more than kneel down and pray.
When it's time for a commercial break (about every third minute before the final time dilation), the real entertainment lights up, and we're treated to the best show that television has to offer: the commercials. Here's where the action is. There is not one second that goes to waste in putting Mike's and his fellow viewer's attention to good use.
But Mike Prater is a sports columnist, isn't he? What does this have to do with sports?
If Mike wants to know just what kind of "athlete(?)" it takes to participate in a real sport - for 90 minutes, with precious few interruptions, no committee meetings, no substitutes every minute, no huddles, almost no body armor, and no stupid commercial interruptions - I'd love to have him drag his sorry butt out onto the soccer field and give it a try in our city league.
We're a long way from paid performers, but we are a bit beyond "magnet ball," and our experience leads us to appreciate the stamina, intelligence and finesse that it takes to survive in the big leagues. The reason the game is interesting is because we know it, feel it, love it; not just because the American media is feeding it to us with a spoon.