A man asked me the other day, what do you do outside of the office. I told him, I write about the Dallas Cowboys, I am a fantasy football commissioner, I follow the Oklahoma State Cowboys religiously, and I live for the fall when I can watch football 24×7. He then asked, why do you, a woman, enjoy football. My fanaticism began many years ago. Growing up in small town Oklahoma, we always spent Sundays at my grandparents house where we ate fried chicken, mashed potatoes, chocolate pie, and cheered on the Dallas Cowboys.
He then asked me what about the game makes it so interesting. The game of football is much like a game of chess, in my opinion, although, truth be told, I have only recently played chess. In my attempts at learning the game of chess, I started thinking about the game of football. For me, football is much easier to comprehend. Bear with me as I, a woman, describe the elements of each game in relation to the other………and yes, there is a link to the Dallas Cowboys.
In chess you have 16 pieces which include a king, a queen, eight pawns, two knights, two rooks, and two bishops. In football you have 11 players on the field at a time, whether it be the offense, defense or special teams. In this particular scenario, we are comparing the offense only and focusing on an attack strategy, rather than defense. Both sports are all about which team gets the better position, who controls the clock, the battle between the coaching staffs, and occasionally, overall athletic talent (not so much in chess – it’s all about brains.)
“What in the world does this have to do with the Dallas Cowboys?”, you ask the Loon. Imagine a scene where Tony Romo is the King, DeMarco Murray is the Queen, Miles Austin and Dez Bryant are the Rooks, Dwayne Harris or Raymond Radway is the Bishop, Jason Witten is the Knight, and Phil Costa, Kyle Kosier, Bill Nagy, Doug Free, Tyron Smith are the Pawns. The goal is to keep the King protected and let him control the game; however, if he’s taken out, the game is over.
The front line pawns are the first to react and block the opponents from getting to the king. The queen can protect the king as well, but often moves forward to gain position. The knights and rooks move around the field at angles or downfield, again, to gain that coveted position. The bishops then throw a monkey wrench into the game by surprise attacking – they are often overlooked by the opposing team.
Prior to the game, the coaching staff sets goals and game strategy by watching the upcoming opponents game film. During the game, it will be up to the king to put those goals and plans into motion. As the game progresses, various factors will alter the course; be it, opponents strategy, injuries, weather, and, in the case of the Cowboys, which team decided to show up on any given Sunday. In-game changes also need to be made, and hopefully, the coaching staff has the ability to adjust.
Some would argue that the pawns are the least valuable of all the players, but, again, in the case of the Cowboys, if the pawns are not doing their job protecting the king, then the king is worthless. How many times have we seen Romo on his backside this past season? I would say that the pawns are as important as that king, although, due to injuries and youth, the Cowboy pawns were unable to prove that theory in 2011.
Chess consists of three phases: the opening – creating the tone of the game, the middle – establishing the position, and the end – sealing the attack. Football is much the same, Jason Garrett has a plan prior to kick-off. It’s up to King Romo to set the tone from the start (which he did not do against several teams this season.) The rest of the players need to be ready and willing to establish position and, first and foremost, protect their king. If all goes well, the rooks or queen score a touchdown by taking out the other team’s king, which also would result in a Cowboy victory.
That, in a nutshell, is why I love the game of football. Of course, I also like the tight pants, the strong muscles, and the manly-men who play this game, football, not chess. I may not ever master the game of chess, but ask me anything about football and I’ll gladly sit down for a hearty discussion.