Monday, January 23, 2012

Why I Suddenly Might Actually Like Football

Last night something very odd happened.

I not only watched a football game but I enjoyed it.

Okay, maybe not the entire game.That might have proved too much for a first experience but I showed up soon after half time, plopping down next to Seth who was in a state of pleased agitation.

It appeared the Giants were doing well. 
The pacing leader

As far as I'm concerned, the game itself remains a big mystery. It involves a lot of very large men (with the exception, apparently, of a rather delicate "kicker") running about in patterns that make no sense, falling hard on unprotected elbows-- mouthpieces flying out between the bars of their helmets while other other men sit, wrapped in team blankets staring grimly as one apparent leader, wearing headphones, paces on the sidelines, clipboard in hand. 

This, however, was what I enjoyed about the game. If you're able to watch on a relatively large screen with the clarity of high def TV, you have a front and center seat to a fabulous display of great human drama.
There are four separate emotions
exhibited in this photo.

While I admit that it certainly didn't hurt that many of these men looked rather snappy in their tight pants and had nice toned arms, it was their faces that I  most enjoyed.

I witnessed what felt like every possible emotion during the second half of that game: there was hope, determination, stress, despair, frustration, anxiety, joy and elation unfolding before my very eyes.

I asked all kind of questions which Seth did not enjoy answering: How do you think they keep those uniforms clean? What kind of underwear do they prefer? How do they run like that in a jock strap? Why is the kicker so small? Do they shower together? If so, do they like it? How much do they eat before a game? What exactly do they eat Do you think they cheat on their wives? Why are there so many starts and stops during the action? How can they get up again and again after being knocked to the ground? Do you think they like each other? Do they have pets? Do their pets like each other?Would they like me?

Bravado? Exultation?
Just pointing?
Seth expressed his displeasure with an occasional extended stare but I needed to know these things since my focus was not the score but their psyches.

And footballs players, apparently, do not hide their feelings. They grunt, groan, weep, flinch, mope, rage, look to the heavens, leap skyward, grin, high-five and, ultimately, run around like crazy children when they win. It was great.

I felt very mainstream American as we watched. Baseball is my game of choice and is considered the apple-pie of sporting diversions but it doesn't seem to give me the same sense of Americana that I achieved in just one night of watching a football game. 

This may apply only to an important game like last night's. 

Conscious that so many people were watching simultaneously all over the country, I may have experienced some kind of electrifying group dynamic as energy combined in front of television screens everywhere. But I have to admit, I was kind of into it.

And it didn't hurt that Seth's bowl of air-popped kettle corn was within reach of my grabby hands, either.

I would not have wanted to be in the stands, however. Crowds terrify me as does the idea of how long it would take to slowly snake ones way to the car and out of the parking lot.

Watching from home you get to see the faces, the close-up intensity so much better on TV and their are no lines at the restroom (hopefully).

Instead, show me the eyes of the players inside their helmets--the whites as wide as a racehorses as they rear before the gate opens, the quarterback's face as he checks the play, the arc of the coach's hand as it slices upward to his hair in a moment of stress and the intimacy of the coin toss as those huge men wait quietly for the decision of a quarter as it lands on the grass.

Will I ever become a real fan of the game? Probably not. But I might buy a football shaped dip platter and drive Seth insane with more questions on Super Bowl Sunday.


  1. My wife kind of watches for similar reasons and she asks lots of questions, too. I pay no attention to their faces or body language lile she does but now i know it must be a woman thing.

  2. I really enjoyed this. I liked the "intimacy of the coin toss." Nice. I don't really like football but I may have to tune in to see what you're talking about.

  3. Hmmm. Maybe it is a woman thing.Do you answer her questions or just stare, Malcolm?

    Thanks for reading...come back again!

  4. Well, thanks, Sharona..that made me feel very appreciated!

  5. nice post but football is still what Americans insist on calling soccer

  6. I find American football totally incomprehensible (that said, I am right now watching a cricket test - which is scheduled to last 5 days, and which may or may not end with a winner!)
    I went to a live rugby game once (and will NEVER again) - there were no replays, no commentaries and we had to sit in the cold... there was wine, however... :-)

  7. I'm glad you got to watch the game Susan, and I'm sure you didn't look any more confused than Eli does. My wife is a huge Broncos fan (her team admiration is huge, not the woman herself) and she enjoyed herself while Tebow beat my Steelers.


  8. Keep watching football! It will grow on you :)

  9. A cricket test? Does this involve wetas at all, Janet?

  10. Thanks, Scott...I did enjoy it. And, by the way, have been trying to post on your blog for days. It won't let me!!

  11. You may have something there, Anonymous! Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment!

  12. My favorite part of football is the food...pigs in blankets, chili,fried ravioli, beer. Liked the blog too.

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