What Sport is Architecture Like? Football Edition

Following the typical July lull things are starting to heat up again in the world of sports. Since I’m on a kick of drawing abstract comparisons between architecture and other things, I am going to do a series of posts looking at comparisons between architecture and sports to see what sport architecture is most like. In honor of the first week of football season I will will first be looking at whether or not architecture is like football. Feel free to weigh in in the comments or on Twitter or on your own blog or wherever.

Personal Foul: Roughing the Drafter

Personal Foul: Roughing the Drafter


Football is far and away the most popular sport in America. It’s so popular that people once said “you know, ‘football’ is already a thing that’s popular, you might want to change your name” and Football said “nah” and got away with it. Not so with architecture. Architecture is well-known but not very popular and nobody really gets the rules. It’s more like curling than football.

Football is a team sport. It has some standout big names but also allows for the emergence of storylines for minor players as well. Most people in a city with an NFL franchise can name at least the starting quarterback for their team even if they don’t watch the games. By contrast, architecture is dominated exclusively by a handful of celebrity minds while most people in a city probably can’t name a local architecture firm.


There is no “farm system” so both football and architecture make extensive use of unpaid student labor to develop talent which causes some controversy. Positions on a football team are very specific and everything is coordinated by one person. While this structure might be true of larger architecture firms, architects are more commonly multi-taskers who can take on many roles in a given day.


This is probably the area that football is most like architecture. Just like every game is important for a football team, most architects take on a small number of projects in a year and each is important. If even a few go bad the team could be in for a bad year.

Football is most like …

Law. It’s outrageously popular and there’s a lot of competition for very few high-paying spots. Even if you don’t follow law, you probably know a few firms in your area …

Edgar Snyder is the second-biggest celebrity that I have ever seen in real life

… and there are a few times per year that some high-profile events get national attention.


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