I was just thinking about being on a college football team versus being on a college track team... which is weird enough that I was on either of those teams considering I only started playing football my senior year of high school and only started doing track my junior year of college as a way to stay fit for judo. Needless to say I never excelled at either of these sports, but I did learn a lot and met some fantastic people and had a pretty good time in general. Anyway, my point is that although I was not breaking records, earning fame, or really playing all that much (you can call me "the judge"... 'cuz I spend a lot of time on the bench), I do fancy myself a cagey observer of human behavior and I think there are some very fundamental differences in the psychology of a football player versus a track athlete.
If you're not familiar with the way college football works, I'll try to summarize it for you as best I can. You and about 60 other guys are going to spend about 2 hours a day wearing uncomfortable clothes and running into and away from each other all based on the relative position of ball, the whole time being aggressively yelled at by grown men. And you'll be doing this whether its hot, cold, windy, rainy, a blizzard, whatever. Sometimes you might be doing this early in the afternoon, late at night, and sometimes at 6am. In fact, for a two week period in late summer you'll be doing this two to three times a day. You'll also have long meetings where you watch film of yourself, and other football players, playing football in an attempt to either implicitly or explicitly absorb the tendencies and contextual behaviors or your opponents.
Now, as I was trying to learn the game of football I also noticed other athletes around me as we went through our day to day athletic lives. Basketball, volleyball, and even the rare tennis player gave me insight in what kinds of people were attracted to different kinds of sports. Each sport, and each position within a sport, had it is own personality mold that a budding young player might fill. But these other sports aside, I mostly remember the track guys.
I knew a lot of them from parties and they all seemed pretty relax and we got on pretty well. They had a certain barefooted irreverence for life that resonated with my own nascent granola mentality a lot more than the hyper-masculine, Spartan-esque comradeship of football. These guys didn't have to put on sweat soaked body armor to practice, they wore what looked like comfortable shorts and shoes and basically got to run around outside.They'd leisurely warm up, take a few jumps, take their shirts off, hang around in the sun, and then go jump some more. Perhaps the most important thing I noticed was that they also got to do all of this surrounded by amazingly attractive women who wore essentially no clothes. Now, I don't want to sound sexist, I'm sure the reverse is just as big a selling point for the ladies... I'm fully capable of objectifying both genders.
So I'm not trying to say that one sport is better than the other, all I'm trying to say is that there are two fields. One is full of three hundred pound men who spent years hammering their bodies into iron tools with the sole purpose crushing your own body into new and interesting shapes. And in the other field is a bunch of affable guys and girls running around in the sun with no clothes on. Which field would you stand in?