JUICE: so ok. the thing about this game is that you don't really "watch" it. ok? because usually there's not any action in the traditional sense.
JUICE: it's like watching a galaxy form in some far off nebula. there are a million things to study but things evolve far too slowly to count as action on this scale of time. you could watch it for a week straight and realize that the whole time, nothing resembling football actually happened.
JUICE: but you don't feel cheated. and why would you? how could you see this and feel cheated?
TEN: Ooh, look at you! You're using apostrophes! You're punctuating!
JUICE: well this is special to me. i feel like i'm one of the only true appreciators of this game, and the duty of introducing someone to it is one i take very seriously. if i could put a tux on i would.
JUICE: there are lot of different ways to behold this game. i like to think of it as a rainbow of failed ideas. some of these terrible ideas collapsed on themselves and disappeared. some of these terrible ideas interacted with each other in any number of different ways. and some of these terrible ideas swallowed other, less terrible ideas whole.
JUICE: we don't have the details of how, exactly, all of this came to be. there are some things we know, and there are a lot of very safe guesses and projections.
JUICE: one thing we do know is that this was once an nfl game between the denver broncos and pittsburgh steelers. it almost certainly started in the 21st century, probably the 2080s or 2090s. over the next 15,000 years, the two-team system faded away. outside teams, people, and interests began to interfere in the game, eventually claiming territory.
JUICE: any questions so far
TEN: Can we change the channel yet?
JUICE: the game is divided into 58 territories. the broncos and steelers each still have their own territory.
JUICE: Territory 1 is claimed by the Broncos, who have refused to participate in any of this evolution. their territory remains completely unaltered. the hash marks are freshly painted, and the players still show up every Sunday in helmets and pads. they insist, without any success, that the game return to how it used to be. a wall stands between their territory and their others, though no one remembers for sure who built it.
JUICE: the Steelers exist, but barely. their territory, which once covered half the field, is now reduced to a single, tiny corner. they would've disappeared from the field entirely were it not for the Broncos, who leveraged whatever political power they had to ensure their opponent was still in the game. there's one Steelers player who still comes back every 500 years or so. they call him the Last Steeler. he just kinda drags a stool out there and sits there for an afternoon and then leaves.
JUICE: nothing much else for him to do up there in the corner, really. thanks to all the development, he can't even see half the field. i guess he just feels like he should make an appearance now and then.
JUICE: Territories 8, 9, 10 and 11 were plotted out as an attempt to connect the Steelers and Broncos, so they could still actually play some kind of traditional football game. but rules on top of rules on top of rules made that impossible.
NINE: I'm not understanding how
TEN: Don't encourage him.
JUICE: NO no no no NO it's ok, how can i help you
NINE: OK well, I don't understand how an NFL game went from that to this. This started as a standard NFL game with 15-minute quarters and everything, right?
JUICE: yes, and the general consensus is that someone flipped some kind of switch in the rule book. at this point the NFL was about 150 years old, and over the years the rulebook got larger and larger, and became bloated with endless addendums and conditions. some were added to try to make the game more exciting, and others were added because a particular team or owner insisted. and in a lot of cases, they kept adding rules to properly define a certain element of the game.
JUICE: for example, how do you know if a player has control of the ball?
NINE: I don't know. If they're holding the ball and not fumbling it, I guess?
JUICE: so you just sort of eyeball it, right? you don't conduct a geometric analysis of every biological vector and the location of quadrillions of atomic particles, right? you wouldn't, because "having" something is an artificial notion. it's a judgment call. if the NFL wanted to preserve what it was, it would've backtracked to that point. the referees should've been able to call the game as they saw and felt it.
JUICE: but instead, they tried to define what can't be defined without a supercomputer. they took the catch rule and tacked all kinds of conditions and notes and everything onto it. eventually the "catch" section was 50 pages long.
JUICE: and you can only have so many rules until some of those rules begin to contradict each other, or stack on each other in different ways. what we believe happened is that during this game, one of the teams cited a constellation of rules from across the rulebook and used them to argue that they owned part of the field. and of course, once that became possible, the teams raced to lay claim to as much of the field as they could.
NINE: But now there are 58 teams, not two.
JUICE: yup. before long, individual players found that they could also present legal arguments for splintering off into their own factions. for one reason or another, some of them did. there were four teams, then seven, then 25. at one point there were as many as a hundred. some of those territories consolidated, and now there are 58.
JUICE: Territories 8 through 11 were originally one unified territory. a bureaucratic tug-of-war splintered them into narrow lanes, which were then further carved apart by interests that had nothing to do with the football game. you can see the remnants of a baseball diamond they once tried to build. Territory 13 is now home to some storage units. Territory 11 is the 49ers' attempt, at some point in the 67th century, to insert themselves as a third team. it's unclear why or what benefit it could have served them. it has been lost to history.
JUICE: Territories 8, 9 and 10 are home to some housing units. these are mostly just rented out to out-of-towners and whatnot.
NINE: So this part has nothing to do with football.
JUICE: nah not really. i mean they don't have a lot of trouble filling it up, people dig the novelty of spending the night in the middle of an NFL game. but tenant's rights do give them authority to make a play on the ball or something.
NINE: I wonder what for. If they did get the ball, what would they do with it?
JUICE: that's a good question. prolly could try to score in the Broncos' or Steelers' end zones, but the officials most likely wouldn't give them the points. hard to know really. they could also try and score in one of the alternate end zones. see those?
NINE: I was going to ask about those.
JUICE: well, those were acquired by players who deserted from the old rosters who insisted on playing their own game-inside-a-game. they thought it was hopeless to try to score as the game was originally drawn up, but they still wanted to play. so they did their best to grab a little land for their
TEN: this is so fucking dumb
JUICE: own end zones. but they couldn't acquire any territory in between them, and those territories don't like players stompin' about on their fields. so that game's kinda not feasible these days. especially because they moved the bojangles. now bojangles is right in the way.
JUICE: I KNOWWWWW i thought it was crazy too. bojangles is primarily a southern chain, i never thought they would expand to colorado. i firmly believe that on a long enough scale of time, we could see a kroger in oregon
TEN: i am going to crash into the next asteroid i see
NINE: So ... where's the ball?
JUICE: well that's the big question. thanks to a tracking system, we know that the ball is still somewhere on the field, but precise tracking was disabled thousands of years ago. there are plenty of places for it to hide, but there are about a hundred permanent residents in this field. one of them should've stumbled upon it by now. i think someone has the world's best hiding place and isn't saying a damn thing.
JUICE: to be honest though, most of these territories don't even care where the ball is. for the most part, they
NINE: Wait. Wait, this is
NINE: I don't understand why people would acquire territories in this field if they don't even want to play.
JUICE: if a piece of property is valuable to someone, it is valuable to everyone. a lot of these territories are held by people holding out for a deal. could be money, could be anything else. see Territory 56? thousands of years ago, it was a far larger and more valuable territory. it was once the only access point connecting Territory 17 and Territory 104, which no longer exists.
JUICE: that territory was claimed by a contingent of fans who demanded that brown mustard be provided in the concession areas. so they
NINE: People still go to this game?
JUICE: oh for sure they do. they don't pack it in like they used to, but 75,000 people bought a ticket for this game back in 2080 or whenever. the stadium's generous re-entry policy lets them come and go. at any given time there's probably a thousand people in the
TEN: Oh, come on. Don't tell me that.
JUICE: you didnt know that?
TEN: People sit in the stands and watch this ... this fucking crap? This garbage dump where nothing fucking ever happens?
JUICE: oh yeah broncos fans are crazy
JUICE: so anyways the fans were like "we've got the most crucial territory on the field, give us some damn brown mustard or else." and stadium management came back with "We're always looking to give our fans the best fan experience but unfortunately our vendors" whatever whatever, so they were like "fuck it" and made a lake out of it. that moment heavily influenced the geopolitical climate of Sports Authority Field at Mile High for centuries. indeed, it
TEN: Is that a statue of Sir Walter Raleigh
JUICE: is there any explanation you would possibly find satisfactory
NINE: I think I'm fascinated by this game.
NINE: I really am. It's like, look at all the time it's taken to make this game what it is. People have spent forever arguing and negotiating. Wow, and look at those skyscrapers, I didn't even ask about those. The resources poured into this field are unbelievable.
NINE: If they'd just worked together, think of the amazing game they could have made. They could have made something really cool. Like some kind of wild maze or whatever, I don't know. Something that was ten thousand feet tall.
NINE: But they don't want that. Or maybe they do on some level, and they can't work together. It's hideous.
JUICE: holy shit i like you
JUICE: that is EXACTLY it, that is exactly it
JUICE: yo 10 i think i know why you hate this and i love it
TEN: I'll listen if you let me change the channel.
JUICE: ok but we're def gonna watch more of it later ok
JUICE: so you know, you're american. youre from florida.
TEN: Built in California, launched from Florida.
JUICE: right. so i bet you see this and you see a capitalist error. capitalism run wild.
TEN: Sure. It's too much salt in the soup. Capitalism can't be allowed to run the entire show. There has to be some sort of counterbalance. If there isn't leverage on behalf of the common good, this is what you end up with. If this game still had a central governing body, Nine is right, there could be something great. But it's a garbage dump. It's a failure.
JUICE: this IS capitalism you donk
JUICE: this is what its supposed to be, this is how it ends. if it isn't there its only because it isnt there yet. its like youre staring at a cake in the oven and wondering if its gonna be a cake.
JUICE: things went the other direction in america and thank god for that. but capitalism deserves a zoo like this one. it's a beast of the wild, as wild as any grizzly bear with fawn's blood in its mouth. i think you see deeds and contracts and bureaucratic bloat and see that something went wrong. something was ALWAYS wrong y'all.
JUICE: i love it. i love to watch it. in a zoo, where it can't hurt me.
TEN: Aaaand ... people are tuning out. We're down to 106 listeners.
NINE: People are listening to us? Like, people on Earth?
TEN: Well, they were! Only 98 now. Thanks for that, Juice. Thank you.
JUICE: well when you talk to a 15,754-year-old spacecraft who was built in Toulouse this is wtf you get
JUICE: sorry for being bored and french