The Loneliness of Football Season

I am afraid to say this out loud, so I’m whispering it to the Internet: I don’t like football.

Well, that came out wrong. I don’t mean I actively dislike football; I mean I fail to love football in the way that everyone around me does.

Where I live, everyone loves football, even the ladies. But not me. (I wish I did, so I could join in on the fun; but looking back, I realize there was probably never any hope. First of all, I come from a long line of nerds. We are not an athletic people. Second, I moved around a lot growing up, so I have no geographical/team allegiances. Third, I somehow managed to avoid going to a big football school my entire life.) I just never developed the football sense.

Being a non-football-fan in football country is a bummer sometimes. The upcoming game is the #1 topic of conversation at social gatherings in the fall… when social gatherings can even happen, that is. Trying to make plans with friends for fall weekends gets dicey, because a GAME COULD BE ON. Face-to-face human interactions are suddenly trumped by televised sports, which absolutely must be seen in real time. I have witnessed this exact conversation:

I’m not kidding. You can’t kid about football. Trust me on that. If you call someone’s fantasy football league their “imaginary football” league, they will not laugh. Even though if you think about it, it’s pretty funny that there’s a whole world of made-up football being played, fictionally, by nonexistent players who have the same names and stats of actual people over here in the universe known as reality.

There are lots of aspects of football season that I do like – wearing sweaters, carrying flasks, eating meat cooked in a parking lot. I also enjoy doing cheerleader impressions. (Ask me about my most requested cheer: “Wheels are for truckers, scams are for suckers, we think your team’s a bunch of…”) Unfortunately, there’s just so much of it I can’t relate to.

Anyway. I hate being left out, and I don’t want to stay home by myself while everyone else is having fun. So please, invite me over to watch the game. I’ll behave. In fact, I would be immensely grateful if you could help me behave even better.

How To Help a Non-Fan Enjoy a Football Game:

  • Show me where to sit. One time I sat on the wrong side of the bar. HO-LY shit. Bad move. Look, I’m not trying to express my loyalties one way or the other – I just don’t know which cheering section is “ours.” So point me in the right direction. The great news is, I totally don’t care whether I can see the TV, so you can give me the seat no one else wants.
  • Assign me some food to bring. In fact, put me on cocktail waitress duty for the game. I like assembling trays of snacks and walking around and refilling drinks, and that gives me an excuse to get up. See, I can be useful!
  • Shoot me a few signals. I don’t know the difference between good news and bad news; I only know the announcer is screaming. Is this a “YEAH!” moment or a “NOOO!” moment? I’ll do what you do.
  • Help me translate football minutes into real minutes. I know that when it says “2:43” left in the game, it’s not really two minutes and forty-three seconds. But I don’t really understand how long it is. Every minute in football time feels like an hour to me. So break it down in terms I can understand: “You have time to have two more beers.” Or: “The game will be over after you pick seven more threads out of the sofa cushion.” Or: “You can get in your car, go commit a crime on the empty streets, come back, and no one will know you were even gone, because there’s that much game still left.”
  • Give me your wifi password.
  • Do you have any magazines?

Gooooo, team!

UPDATE: You can also find this article syndicated on TheFootballGirl.com — a Forbes “Best Website,” created by a female ESPN producer to give chicks (and dudes) who love the NFL a place for nonstop jock-talk. Check it out!

32 comments

  1. I was the same way until I fell for Tim Riggins on Friday Night Lights and totally fell in love with football. (I’d do anything for Tim!)

  2. ML, come spend some time with my wife. When I’m otherwise occupied, she has been known to go to sports bars, by herself, eight months pregnant, to watch her horrible team lose. Again and again and again. Yet she keeps going. She can coach you.

  3. I am so with you on this. People don’t even invite me to watch games anymore because I exasperate them so.
    If you do get stuck watching a game, though, it’s really fun to play “Mystery Science Theater 3000” with the linemen (they are the really big guys that usually have higher numbers on their jerseys.)
    “I’m a biiiiig fella. I’m a gonna hug up on ya now!”
    “Look at my belly! I’m a gonna crush ya with my big belly!”
    It doesn’t get you invited to many tailgates, but it does make the time pass more quickly.

  4. That definitely is something hard to admit in this country, but I love your approach. I love football, but have only done so for the past two years really (Go Eagles). Before then I was kind of indifferent to it because I grew up in Europe and that’s the land of soccer.

    That all changed when I saw a season of Hard Knocks, the show that goes behind the scenes at a team’s training camp. That plus some explanations from my boyfriend helped me understand and really develop a love for football.

  5. As an avid football fan and a girl none-the-less, I must say that I loved this post! Not all of us are jerks to those that do not enjoy the sport. I snorted out loud and shared your cheer with the men in the room. Very funny ~ loved the cocktail waitress and translating football minutes the best! 🙂

  6. Wow, I am in the same boat as you on all of this. I get football, as in the rules and everything, I just do not have the “give a fuck” attitude that everyone else seems to have.

  7. I’m in the same boat. It’s just not my thing. On the bright side — I like to go to restaurants that are usually crowded or other must-experience venues when everyone else is watching the game. It’s much less crowded that way…so yeah, I’m with you — go team 😉

  8. You just need to have a crush on the coach or the quarterback, like me, and you’ll be front and center. I used to dislike football too. I’m smart enough to understand the rules and plays, but didn’t like the game enough to retain the information. Then, I got my first football crush and now I watch every Sunday with my husband. He knows my reason, but he doesn’t care because we’re watching football!

  9. This is the funniest thing I have ever read…Finally! I try to force myself to like it…I buy tervis tumblers w/ school mascots that are popular way down here in the south, i post stupid things on fcebook abt a team…alas, I just can’t do it. I try..and should as my great grandfather was QB at uga..It’s PAINFUL. I was watching some game where this Tulane player is knocked unconcious and will probably never walk again…I don’t understand the point…really.

  10. This is fantastic. As a registered member of a Football Widows Club, I can totally appreciate this sentiment. I’ve learned more of the rules of football than I ever thought possible, but somehow (despite everyone’s assurances) knowing more never translated into caring more. Awesome post. 🙂

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