Appearing on the FOX radio show, in a conversation sparked about Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb not knowing the NFL overtime rules, UCLA football coach Rick Neuheisel said it was surprising to hear, but gave a reason for it. His belief is that fewer kids are watching football today, compared to his generation. The Bruins coach says, “There's just too many other things they can do with their social time. Video games have taken a large majority of that. And I'm not sure you've ever seen a tie in a video game!” Although his take is somewhat sensible, I won’t agree with it.
When comparing today to yesterday, you see how widespread the game of football has become, in regard to media coverage. Yesterday, a televised Thursday game was only a Thanksgiving Day occurrence. Today, there isn’t a single day of the week where football isn’t being broadcast nationally at one level or another. Yesterday, if you missed a game, you could only read about it or catch highlights. Today, you use the DVR and record several games to be viewed several times over. College conferences now have their own networks or are contractually tied to others, so even if a game wasn’t televised live in your local area, you can catch a replay later in the week. If you’re looking to view it live, ESPN 360 or CBS Sports Line will capture the feed and display it on your computer monitor.
Today’s kids know more about football than their father’s before them, which is why athletes continue to improve with time. They know more about training and diets. They imitate their gridiron heroes (from mannerism, dress, and movement) through images provided in high definition. They know all about contracts and how combine results increase your earnings, as hold-outs and signings are now just a part of daily television conversations.
If there are players in the NFL that don’t know the overtime rules, it’s not because they didn’t watch enough football. It’s because ties don’t occur that often. As it is, they could have watched every game for the past five years without witnessing a tie. Maybe Neuheisel’s kids aren’t watching football, because that game isn’t being played in Westwood. After all, the best chance they have to see their dad lead UCLA to a National Championship is to hand him a joystick and insert a disk.