American football is a matter of the head. That's what they often say when describing the sport. Then the comparisons come up. Chess on grass. Coaches who direct their pawns in battle like war strategists - always trying to be one step ahead of the opponent. Players who recall from memory one of hundreds of plays and mechanically execute what is said to their ears. Yes, American football is lawn chess. But if it were marketed solely and exclusively as such, probably no one would be reading these lines on this website at this very moment, so far removed from lawn chess, because this platform would not exist.
For some years now, interest in the sport has been growing noticeably in Germany. The niche has become bigger. Private, free-to-air TV channels, web portals, newspapers, social media channels and magazines have found their place in it. Fan podcasts and programmes have emerged. Clubs, such as the German Sea Hawkers e.V., have formed. Because the premium league NFL, together with some media companies, has brought a product to Germany that offers entertainment in extremely high quality. Physical peak performances in high gloss and slow motion, from fantastic perspectives, with a highlight guarantee. It's a hype that we too - many members for decades - have fallen for.
For lawn chess, a small branch of the niche remains. Tactics, scouting, analyses are served there, but they will probably never be able to compete with pure highlight clips. Because the more complex it becomes, the smaller the audience.
Complexity, on the other hand, cannot be blamed for the dangers of the sport of American football. Nevertheless, the undoubted risks that athletes expose themselves to - for their own livelihood, but also for our pleasure - seem to get lost in the hype. Because this reality is uncomfortable. We, too, are fans first and foremost because we are fascinated by American football and especially the Seattle Seahawks and want to be entertained by it.
But this is precisely why we want to promote conscious consumption and an enlightened approach to our favourite sport in this project entitled "Headache" - and not suppress the negative aspects that are undoubtedly a part of American football.
Not only since the cinema film "Concussion" (German title: "Erschütternde Wahrheit") with Will Smith has neurological damage, which can be caused by collisions on the field, been a topic in American football. Concussions, head impacts and the possible resulting late effects (keyword CTE) are, along with the overly complex tactics board, the greatest existential threat to a sport that captivates fans with superhuman athleticism and raucous spectacle.
We at the German Sea Hawkers e.V. want to deal with this topic - in a form that has never been seen before in Germany. In this smorgasbord of stories, films, pictures, quotes and links, we approach an aspect of American football that awaits the players as soon as they step out of the spotlight into the darkness of the stadium catacombs. As soon as they no longer stand cheering in the end zone, but have to leave the field with a stooped posture on the back of a golf cart.
Many aspects that come up in this project have a connection to the Seattle Seahawks, some also to American football in Germany. Because our interest in what our favourite players bring to the field Sunday after Sunday should not stop at the screen through which we receive the game in our living room. This interest should inspire us to think about consequences, to classify incidents and to consume responsibly.
Because American football is all about the head.