Did you know we play football on Mars? Yes, true fact. I know, you think it’s “barren” up here, but that’s because we mess with your data. All the time. You send these probes through space and we have lots of fun thinking up ways to throw you off. My friend Bob dumped his famous chip dip on one of your spectrometers during halftime (“Let’s see what they think of that! ha ha!”), and I probably should not admit this but I’ve got your Curiosity rover parked in my driveway (use it for shopping). But let’s skip all that, I’m a big football fan (because I hate those little footballs!) and my team is the Alba Mons Spiders. They are championship caliber, I have season tickets, and I never miss a game.
Sometimes I try to watch broadcasts of your games but, man, what the heck have you done to football? Let me give you some friendly Martian advice. Just a few things:
Taunting. I almost fell off my chair laughing when I saw this—the “Taunting” penalty. Are you kidding me? A 15 yard penalty for “Taunting”? What next? Loss of down for “Harsh Language”? “Picking Your Nose”?
Up here on Mars, we require taunting after a play. In fact, we penalize teams for “Failure To Taunt”—15 yards and loss of down! Yeah baby!
“Instant” Replays. What’s instant about them? More to the point, though, why even have them? You’ll have a wide receiver make an acrobatic catch in the end zone with a cornerback wrapped around his legs, the ref signals Touchdown! and the crowd wants to go crazy, but wait. Wait. Was he juggling the ball? Was his left foot in bounds? Let’s have some league geniuses in a booth a thousand miles away take a look at the replay. Let’s have a little huddle of refs on the field scratching their heads for 10 minutes. Finally the result comes in, yes, touchdown confirmed. Yay.
See, on Mars, we ensure that our refs are properly trained to position themselves every play so that they have a good shot at making the correct call. They are expected to do their best, to be unbiased, and when they make the call, that is the end of the matter. “Touchdown!” really means “Touchdown!”
They are only Martian, and they will make mistakes, but here’s the thing: those mistakes are part of the game. Bad calls are the stuff of legend, and they make for pretty spirited debate down at the Pink Monkey Bird Sports Bar.
You on Earth turn every big play into a court case (“Your Honor, what is a ‘catch’ really?”), with the outcome decided well after the excitement of the moment has passed. Is that what you want to do? It’s unwatchable.
Politics. Oh brother, I hate to go here, but why-oh-why do you allow your games to become platforms for political theater? On Mars, we watch football to get away from politics!
People are always going to crab about something. Life is not perfect on Mars either, and we don’t all get along all the time, even though we are all part of the same great country, which we call “Tharsis.” We’ve got a lot of Tempe Terrans who have migrated to Alba Mons, and they are real assholes, but still, they played a part in the fight for Tharsis independence so we try to remember our common bonds when we get to Bowie Stadium. It’s a beautiful moment as we all rise up together, hands on our hearts, and sing the opening strains of the Tharsis national anthem:
“I’m an alligator…”
A beautiful moment. But I notice that on Earth, in “America” I think you call the place, you mix politics and football. I don’t get that. Why should you care what political point your football players want to make? They are abusing the celebrity you have given them, and playing you for fools. “Hey, I’m famous because I play a game, so I want to talk to you about my take on social justice.” How about doing that on your day off, dufus? How about discussing why it is that you are a millionaire when school teachers are just getting by? How does that scan, social justice-wise? How about right now showing some respect for the sacrifices made by those who founded your country and fought to keep it? How about recognizing the opportunity you have been given to bring people together, and rising to the occasion? How about getting off your butt for a few minutes before the game to stand up, hand on your heart, and sing?
“Keep your ‘lectric eye on me, babe…”
Or if your national anthem is not Moonage Daydream, then sing however yours goes. Ok, enough of that. Game’s about to start. I’ve got to jump in the rover and get some supplies. Bob’s bringing his “unidentified geologic anomaly” chip dip. Yum!