Why are there 53+ players on a team roster for American Football?

I rested today in anticipation of my long run tomorrow. Since the temperature has finally started to cool down, it was downright pleasant outside for a good portion of the day. It is still hot by running standards but I’ll take 90s over triple-digits any day.

Football season is upon us (I’m talking American Football). It is easily the most popular sport in the US. People don’t like it when I express my opinion about this crazy sport. Mind you, I used to be a pretty big Cleveland Browns fan (back in the 1980s when they actually had a somewhat decent team). I went to college at Case Western in Cleveland and (no offense to folks who live in Cleveland) there wasn’t much exciting going on in Cleveland except football, basketball and baseball.

Anyway, football is a nutty sport where each team (professional) is allowed to have 53 players plus a 5-player “practice” squad. Seriously? Needless to say, most players are bench-warmers. Strangely, there are 3 different teams within a team (offense, defense and special team). I can’t think of any other sport where the total number of players on a team roster is 5 times the number of players allowed on the field at any given time. Baseball and Ice Hockey (two more ridiculous sports) come sorta close. Let’s compare:

  • National Football League: 11 players on the field, 53 players on the team (plus 5-player practice squad)
  • National Basketball Association: 5 players on the court, 13 players on the team (although you can have 15 players under contract)
  • American / National League > Baseball: 8 or 9 players on the field, 25 players on the team
  • Cricket (various formats): 11 players on the field, 15 to 20 players on the team (depends on the format)
  • National Hockey League: 6 players on the ice, 20 players on the team roster
  • Field Hockey: 11 players on the field, 16 players on the roster
  • Soccer (real football): 11 players on the field, about 20 players on the roster (depends on the league)
Why American Football needs 53 players on the team roster is a mystery to me. There are so many other arguments against American Football. I’m sure someday I will go off on it and make all my points in this blog. I have to admit that most people (mostly men) are highly entertained by this mindless, violent sport. I guess it speaks volumes about our society (and about men in general)!

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