Learning to Love the Game
I didn’t grow up around football. All I knew about the sport was that others seemed to be obsessed with the scores while I was obsessed with the way the guys looked in their tight-fitting uniforms. I could have cared less about what they were doing with the pigskin.
All of that changed for me when Brock and I started dating. We met just after football season and were getting pretty serious by the time the next season rolled around. And I realized I had a choice – either see what all the fuss was about and see if I found it interesting or accept that I would never see my husband in the fall.
I chose the former.
For the first year, I asked a lot of questions. And I learned how to follow the game and anticipate the strategy.
But I wasn’t really a fan. I felt no emotion when our team was up or when they were down.
By year two, I was starting to watch the games on my own even when Brock was on the road.
And by year three? I was hooked.
And now it’s year five. Brock is teaching and I’m curled up on the couch with the Falcon’s game on the screen and my computer in my lap.
So why did this sports-inept, introverted bookworm decide she loves football? Here’s why –
- I enjoy the trash talk. As an only child, I wasn’t part of the normal ribbing that siblings give each other. It’s fun to participate in its good-natured fun as an adult.
2. I love riding the emotional roller coaster of a good game. It’s purgative. A release. And I especially enjoy it because the outcomes don’t really matter. It’s much the same as the thrill from a scary movie or a good ride. Or, if it’s an especially great game, jumping out of a plane🙂
3. There is something comforting about being part of a larger group. Of belonging. When I see other Ravens’ shirts, I immediately know that I have something in common with that person.
4. As a Type A+ person, I enjoy the excuse to relax. And it’s timed perfectly with the exhale of fall and after the initial school year craziness. And football in front of a roaring fire is absolutely the best!
5. I tend to be in my head. A lot. It’s nice to do something that doesn’t require too much thinking sometimes. It’s just football. No deeper meaning required.
6. Football encourages you to live in the moment. You can try to anticipate. To plan. But surprises always await.
7. In our world that is increasingly excessively politically correct, it’s refreshing to be around fans of the sport that tend to say it like it is. Instead of the thesaurus-laden speech meant to soften the blow.
8. The athleticism of the players never ceases to amaze me. A 6’2” 290-lb man that can sprint faster than I can? Mad respect.
9. Football fans know that some seasons are simply bad. And all you can do is accept that. And stay loyal regardless all while hoping that the next season will be better. Good lesson for life. None of us are always winners.
10. Most football fans learn how to take a loss. They may be crying into their beers or collapsed on the floor, but most will still extend a fist bump to a rival fan with a choked-up, “Good game, man.” I like that.
11. Football teams and players have to be responsive and adaptive. If they always play the game the way they want instead of the game their opposing team requires, they will not be successful. It’s a good reminder to be flexible.
12. It’s not over until it’s over. I used to make the mistake of assuming (and verbalizing) a win or a loss several minutes before the end. I’ve learned. No matter how dire the circumstances, there is always hope.
13. Loyalty to a team is greater than a single player or a single play. Once you’ve sworn your allegiance, you’re in. For the good times and the bad. And you never, ever act ashamed of your team even when they pull bonehead moves.
14. I’m a big fan of scheduled smiles. And football’s schedule allows consistent anticipation and regular games.
15. Injuries happen. Sometimes they are life-changing. But the players also demonstrate amazing strength and perseverance in pushing through their limitations. I respect that.
16. And on a more serious note, football (and often its players), brings important conversations to the forefront with audiences that may not usually be engaged in the topic (I’m thinking mainly of domestic violence here but mental health is also a frequent flyer). As for deflategate, I have a post about cheating in a broader sense currently brewing.
Yes, football is just a sport. It has its share of controversy and sh*tty people.
But it also has given me many lovely afternoons on the couch with my husband, where we celebrate every touchdown with a kiss. It has provided many hours at the local sports bar where we engage in banter with all of the fans, regardless of team. It’s helped me de-stress from rough days at work, wringing out the tension and emotion as I follow the plays.
And now I have something to wear when we have team spirit day at school:)
And Tiger has something to wear too!