IF THERE is anything that really bugs me it is watching a pro-football game with a foreigner, I had the experience last week. My friend was visiting from London with his wife and they both seemed very excited about seeing their first American football game on television.
It happened to be the Redskins-Dallas game and for a Redskins fan I knew it wasn't going to be much fun. The game started out all right, but before long it got rather bloody. This is when they both started asking questions.
"Is the object of the game to injure as many players on the other team as possible?" the husband asked.
"No that is not the object t of the game," I said.
The wife said, "Do you get more points for breaking a man's leg or his neck?"
"You don't get points for breaking either his legs or his neck. You get penalized for it."
"Oh," said the husband. "What is the penalty?"
"Your team is penalized 15 yards."
"Do you mean to say that if you break an opponet's leg you only get 15 yards against you?"
"What do you think he should get?" I said trying to hold my temper.
"In England I believe it's 3 years in prison," the wife replied.
"It's game!" I said. "The men who play expect to have their leg broken. That's what makes it so exciting."
"Of course," said the husband. "One must expect injuries."
A few minutes later the referee walked off 10 yards against the Redskins.
"I didn't see anyone get hurt," the wife said. "Why is there a penalty?"
"Because one of our men was holding one of their men."
"What is the penalty for that?"
"Do you mean to say if you hold a man, the team loses 10 yards but if you break the his leg you are penalized only 15 yards?" the wiffe asked.
I was beginning to lose my patience. "That is correct. In football, holding is almost as serious as breaking someone's leg."
"Of course," the husband said. "It does make sense when you explain it."
In the second quarter the wife turned to me. "Did you notice one of their chaps hit one of your chaps with his fist?"
"That's not permitted," I said.
"Then why doesn't someone do something about it?"
"No one saw it," I replied.
"Everyone on television must have seen it," she said.
"The referee didn't see it. If he had he would have called a personal foul."
"Which means the player would be thrown out of the game?" the husband asked.
"Of course not. You don't get thrown out of the game for slugging another player. If that happened you wouldn't be able to have a pro-football game. The thrill of football for a player is to hit an opponent tand not get caught doing it."
One of the Redskinsnns was stretched out on the field groaning in agony.
"How long is he permitted to lay on the field," the husband asked, "with out being penalized?"
"As long as he wants to. When a man is seriously injured we even permit a doctor to treat him."
"How civilized," the wife said.
I couldn't keep my temper in any longer. "What do you think we are - barbarians?"
"Quite," the husband said.