Football kicks off, but not really


Redskins backup quarterback Kirk Cousins, Number 12, might have a lot at stake in the preseason. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

The Washington Redskins play their first preseason football game Thursday against the Tennessee Titans.

As the KidsPost sports columnist, I usually write about sports events that kids should get excited about, such as the Olympics, the World Cup, the World Series or the Super Bowl. This week, I thought I would write about sports events no one should get too excited about, starting with NFL preseason games.

The Redskins games will be interesting because they might allow us to see whether backup quarterback Kirk Cousins and rookie defensive backs Bacarri Rambo and David Amerson are very good. But the games don’t count in the standings. It doesn’t matter whether Washington wins four preseason games or loses four.

For example, the Baltimore Ravens’ preseason record last season was 2-2 (two wins, two losses). Nobody cared about that when the Ravens were playing against the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl.

I’m not saying the preseason games and practices are not important. Events such as Thursday’s game against the Titans are super important to the players. It is a chance to work on their skills, impress the coaches and improve. I’m just saying preseason games are not very important to the fans.

Think of it: Musicians have to practice and play scales for hours to become better. That practice is essential to their mastering the instrument. But you wouldn’t pay money to watch and listen as a musician practiced scales, would you? No, you would want to hear pieces of music.

So don’t get too excited about, or pay much attention to, preseason games. And that goes double for preseason predictions. In the next few weeks, the papers and TV talk shows will be filled with predictions about which NFL or college football teams are going to be great this season.

Those predictions don’t count for much. Remember that before the baseball season started, most baseball experts thought the Washington Nationals were a lock for the playoffs and even the World Series. Those predictions don’t look very good now.

Or how about all the preseason All-American and All-Conference teams? How can anyone tell who the best players in the 2013 college football season will be when they haven’t played a single game? Isn’t it enough that we have All-American and All-Conference teams after the season?

I could go on, but you get the idea. As a sports fan, you have only so much time to watch sports. So it’s important to pay attention to the games that really matter.

And for the Redskins, those games begin September 9. Not Thursday.

Fred Bowen writes the sports opinion column for KidsPost. He is the author of 19 sports books for kids, including two football books: “Touchdown Trouble” and “Quarterback Season.”

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