It’s football season folks and once again, that leaves me as the loneliest girl at the bar.
I don’t understand football. I mean, I know it’s a game about gaining yards, scoring touchdowns and defending territory. What I mean is, I don’t get what’s fun about watching football on television and feeling a part of a team’s spirit.
Before you roll your eyes, I should mention this isn’t one of those sports bashing articles where a non-fan ridicules football fans for their antics and team loyalty. Actually, this is quite the opposite. As the odd man out here, I’m pretty sure there’s something wrong with me.
I want to participate, really, I do, and I’ve tried to watch and understand the love you all seem to have for the sport and its players. I long to be excited each time a player catches an exceptional pass. I so want to cheer when one of those monstrous linebackers tackles another player like he was nothing but a tin can waiting to be crushed. I want to squeal with you when a touchdown is scored and the player does one of those knee-wobbling dances by the goal post. I even want to paint my face, slap on a team jersey and scream at the television with you until we both have some serious laryngitis.
You all seem so very excited about your teams and I want to be excited too, but sadly I just cannot seem to connect to all the hoopla. And unfortunately I enjoy watching the game as much as I enjoy watching paint dry.
How did this happen? How can it be possible that an entire bar full of people are riveted by a football game, hopping up and and down, blood pressure skyrocketing, having the time of their life, and I’m not even marginally entertained. It makes not sense. I love bars. I love beer. I love dressing up in costumes…..especially “group-themed” costumes. I love to yell and I love to talk smack. So why don’t I like football?
Maybe it’s genetic. Maybe I’m missing the sports fan gene. It’s certainly no fault of my upbringing.
I grew up in Nebraska, land where Husker Football-mania is as ubiquitous as corn and Republicans. Still, football never took root in my soul.
I even attended the University of Nebraska back when they were winning championships and NEVER SAW A SINGLE GAME. During college football season I struggled to find alternative activities to watching “our boys” play as roughly 97% of the population sat glued to their televisions while the remaining 3% were seated in Memorial Stadium in Lincoln watching the game live. It was lonely to say the least.
Football brings people together, people who under different circumstances, would never intermingle. For four quarters and roughly 4 to 6 hours, its fans are devoid of their individual ethnicity, language, religion and socio-economic status. Yet it’s as American as apple pie. And I am an awkward slice of rhubarb.
My best attempt at understanding this innate aversion I have to football is to think about my friend Melissa Shirley. Melissa is an Eagles fan. She’s nuts for the team, wears a jersey when they play, screams, hoots, hollers, gets cranky when they lose and sings and dances when they win. Melissa also, (and paradoxically,) hates musicals. She doesn’t get them. She doesn’t understand why the characters need to break out into cheesy song all the time and she really doesn’t understand why someone like me feels deeply moved by all that singing.
When I see a football game on at a bar with a happy crowd surrounding and I feel that inexplicable turning of my stomach, I just imagine that this is how Melissa would feel if she were forced to watch a group of theatre nerds watching “Oklahoma.” (And I don’t mean The Sooners, I mean Rodgers and Hammerstein.)
Doing this, in some, small, warped way, makes me feel connected to an Eagles fan. And if I feel connected to a Philadelphia fan, it’s pretty difficult to feel lonely during football season.
Check out Leigh’s new book, “Drinkslinger,” available on Amazon.com.