The Art of Performing, Part II

America Football vs. Rugby

If you read the first part of this two part article, you realize that sports is the number one viewed performance in visual and performing arts.  AS we explained in the last article American football and Rugby are tops on that list, so continue reading to learn out why.

American football is played in a series of downs. Between each down there is a brief rest break called the huddle where strategic orders are dished out by the quarterback to the rest of the squad.

The game is divided into four quarters of 15 minutes each, with an intermission after the second quarter, called half-time. Which makes sense since one-quarter plus one-quarter equals one-half.

In Rugby, there is no advance plan. There would be no point. Within moments after the outset of action, it’s chaos and bedlam with every next move made up on the spot in the heat of the moment, as waves of thrashing, pummeling bodies continuously smash into each other.

The play in Rugby is more like the continuous clashing of medieval armies and continues non-stop, interrupted only by prolonged injury.

Ordinary injuries like a broken limb, ripped ear or torn testicle might cause a pause in the action as functioning players step over the damaged player so the action can continue.

After 40 minutes of non-stop action, a pause is taken for 10 minutes. No rest for the weary there! After those brief 10 minutes are over, it’s back on to the field you go for another 40 minutes of grunting, grinding action, again with no breaks except to move the badly wounded out of the way.

Super Bowl XLVI Transportation
Super Bowl Examples.


In American football the object of the game is to score points by moving the ball into the opponent’s end zone while maintaining control of the ball at all times.

The ball does not have to physically touch the ground in order to count as a score, even though the score is called a touch down. Go figure. The ball can also be kicked between the uprights, which is called a Field Goal.

In Rugby the object of the game is to stay alive long enough to continue playing. After 40 minutes of grueling Neanderthal behavior, somebody blows a whistle and a truce is called for 600 seconds (again, 10 minutes for you math whizzes), after which another whistle blows and the battle resumes between those still able to walk.

Protective gear in American football is intense. Padding is seen everywhere on the body, to the extent that modern players look like a cross between an astronaut and RoboCop.

In Rugby, aside from a mouth guard which is required, only a light head cap can be seen along with, presumably, a titanium athletic supporter (by which we do not mean a fan).

If the American football player is like a modern gladiator, the Rugby player is like an extra the Mel Gibson movie, Braveheart, clad only in a loin cloth and sandals.

With only paltry defenses against disabling injury, the Ruby player’s body is completely exposed to brutal contact, crushing assault and continuous pummeling.

According to various statistics, the average player in a game of American football is tackled 4 times with the greatest recorded force being 4,600 lbs, for a potential total of 18,400 pounds of pummeling power.

In Rugby, the average player is tackled 16 times, with the greatest recorded force being 1,600 lbs. which although lighter, results in a total per-game force load of 25,600 lbs., nearly half again that experienced in football. And remember, no body armor (not counting shorts and a jersey).

So the next time you think of the performing arts, don’t forget those warriors on the fields of football and Rugby.

And if you prefer your performing arts from the comfort of your sofa, it doesn’t get any better than the Super Bowl — the single most watched of all televised sporting events in the world.

No, the action isn’t graceful and exquisite, it’s bone-crunching and brutal. But it’s a performance you don’t want to miss. Popcorn optional.