This weekend the pro football season starts across America. Sunday will find me at NRG Stadium alongside 72,000 Houston Texans fans, joining 1,000,000 others in 15 NFL stadiums across America, as well as 100 million viewers parked in front of televisions watching their favorite teams. Today, hope is alive for every NFL fan – every team is still undefeated (late edit: except the Packers), and every fan dreams of the feats that their favorite players will use to win the Lombardi Trophy at Super Bowl XLIX in February. I know the Texans fans are salivating over their expectations of all the times that JJ Watt and JD Clowney will combine to drive the opposing quarterback into the turf. I hear the callers to sports talk radio swearing that Ryan Fitzpatrick (recently named by Sports Illustrated as the 5th smartest athlete in sports — so he could have been an engineer, too) will erase the memory of Matt Schaub’s pick-sixes by connecting on touchdowns to Andre Johnson. And the entire Houston community believes that new coach Bill O’Brien (another guy smart enough to have been an engineer) will finally turn the team’s long simmering potential into real wins.
But engineers are logical thinkers. We know that only one of 32 teams can win the Super Bowl, and thus “our” team (anyone’s team) has a 97% chance of being a loser. So why get our hopes up with the action on the field when we know that there is virtually no chance of success? So what’s an engineer to do for entertainment while attending a football game? Well how about checking out that engineering wonder that we’re sitting in, the modern football stadium?