Football is a big deal at my house. I live with a bunch of guys who love the game. My daughter married a guy who loves the game. It only makes sense I’d be pulled into the gridiron mix.

As such, I’ve contemplated certain intricacies about the game. Not the rules, playing strategies or scoring methods, but the really important stuff. Like why is it called football? The ball doesn’t look anything like a foot. Maybe a large, rounded, pointy toe, if your creativity allows you, but certainly not a whole foot.

The technical name for a football’s shape is a prolate spheroid, the shape of a pig’s bladder, which is what the first footballs were made from. That’s why it’s called a pigskin. No pigs were harmed or injured during this NFL season. Now the balls are made of leather.

The game involves mostly throwing, catching and carrying the ball in one’s hands. Except for the kicker, no one uses his feet for anything other than running and that’s hardly a reason to name an entire game after the foot.

The playing field is measured in yards and a yard is 3 feet, but you never hear the announcer say third down and 12 feet to go. They say third and four, as in yards.

In other countries, our soccer is called football, which makes more sense because soccer or football depending on where you live predominately involves kicking the ball with one’s feet.

There’s probably not a logical explanation for the name. Some things you just have to take at face value. Football is football unless, of course, it is soccer.

To some, the misnomered sport becomes bigger than just a game and not just for the guys I live with. It mimics life. The parallels are practically endless.

In life and football sometimes you are on the offense, sometimes on defense. You have to be competent in both, and know which one to play and when.

In both, success is most often a result of teamwork. There is no “i” in football. I can’t say the same for life so I guess my clever analogy stops there.

Players and people spend quality and quantity time trying to reach goals or goalposts all in search of the big “w” because winning is the objective of football, life and just about anything else worth playing.

Football and life are serious business, not to be taken lightly, but a little levity along the way often enhances the heavier moments. At least, it makes them more bearable. This is exactly why the coffee break and timeout commercials were invented, dilly dilly.

We have to tackle life’s obstacles and try to run with an idea whenever we perceive a gap in the defense. An occasional fumble is inevitable. You don’t want to go off sides or leave anything incomplete. Sometimes we have no alternative but to dive head first into a pile of opponents to push forward past the goal line to win the prize.

I haven’t always been a football aficionado, nor did I recognize the relevant and significant ways the game impacts my life. It started a few years ago, with a family fantasy football competition. The first two years, I came in dead last, this year I won. I guess some of my football knowledge is useful after all. That’s a touchdown by any stretch of the pigskin.



Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright, author and member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. More columns are available at the Slices of Life page on Facebook.