Football: Catch the Fever but Not the Rash!

A couple days until Superbowl time, and given that I’m from Seattle, obviously this is very important to me.  First, I’d like to thank Richard Sherman for deflecting attention off of his teammates who are far more shy and for really rocking the crazy eyes this year.  Next, I’d like to thank Russel Wilson.  You seem genuinely like a good guy, and also you’re very easy on the eyes, which is odd given that you’re a football player.  And finally, Patriots, thank you for chronically cheating so that it’s super easy to hate you – even easier than hating the 49ers, whom I secretly like in very specific situations but will never admit verbally.  That’s right, Patriots, I always want you to lose.  Always.  Even if it would be advantageous for my team if you won, I hope for nothing more than your complete and utter defeat at the hands of men who are marginally more ethical than you.

Alright, nerd rage aside, let’s get to the point.  As per usual I’m going to go into some awkwardly revealing detail about my youth and then make some overarching connection to the impact it has had on my adulthood, since apparently that’s my M.O.  Let’s do this.

So every time I watched a beer commercial as a kid, either it was frogs croaking “Budweiser”, half-naked women and happy ugly white dudes, or a bunch of dudes watching football and cheering while drinking.  Fortunately, in my youth I was incredibly aware that frogs croaking a brand name was fun to mimic, and that women didn’t get undressed anywhere but in the minds of happy ugly white drunk dudes when alcohol was involved on their end.  The last motif just baffled me.  Men watched football?

Let me clarify.  I knew some men watched football.  My grandfather, for example, liked to lay in his bed and watch it every Sunday, and when I visited I would sit on his bedroom floor for a few hours to watch one game with him, shouting and cheering for everything because I didn’t really have any other outlet to get out all my noisy yelling child urges.  My grandmother never joined to watch football, and my sister didn’t, so I suppose this may have been a good indicator about why that gender stereotype existed, but that wasn’t my home.

At home, on Sundays, my oldest sister – 8 years older – would watch football avidly with my mom.  I found the games slow paced, so if I was eating I wouldn’t get distracted, so my mom often had a bag of chips and this amazing four-layer dip I dedicated all my attention to anytime a play wasn’t happening.  Nowadays, I have my cellphone, which is probably exceptionally better for my diet, but every time I watch football I still crave a little bean, sour cream, salsa, and cheese dip to go with my chips.

That was it.  My sister, my mom, and sometimes me depending on how focused my 8-year-old brain was.  My dad never watched football at the time, so clearly every time my brain saw the commercials for booze involving dudes and football, I figured they were trying to attract more men to the sport.  I made it my duty to help their cause, since it might be cool if my dad watched football with us.  And so, I set out to discuss football with men everywhere, telling them how great it was and why they should consider trying it out to enjoy it.

Every time we came across an adult male friend of my parents, I asked them if they liked football.  My uncle was my first recruit.

“Yes, of course,” he replied.

“What about the Seahawks?” I asked, staring at him with the eagerness of an Evangelist.

“Obviously.”

“Will you watch this Sunday?”

“I will be watching every Sunday so long as it’s on!”

SUCCESS!  Now, had I been maybe a year older, I would have realized this conversation clearly indicated he had been watching football all along, but instead I took this to mean that I was amazing and the perfect advocate of the cause.  I continued this same pattern of conversation with male teachers at my elementary school, boys on the playground, and after I had grown enough confidence, I figured it was time to try this talk on the most challenging of targets: my father.

“Do you like football?” I asked, staring at him like a tiger (which I had formerly believed to have eaten my father) about to pounce on its prey.

“Yeah, I love being at the games.”

Lies!  Complete and utter lies!  He had never been to a game that I was aware of, and I had lived with this man for 8 years!  Why would he lie?!  No, I knew this going in, he would be the hardest sell.  I had to continue attracting men to watching football so those beer commercials would go back to showing the reality of football – women with bean dip shouting and hollering, and maybe after all my hard work a couple men as well.

“What about watching games?” I asked, this time raising an eyebrow as I stared at his face, gauging whether or not he’d be willing to be persuaded to join the cause.

“Well, yeah, that’s what I do when I’m at games.”

“Great!  So you’ll watch it this weekend with us?  Perfect!”

Rather than waiting for him to clarify that the answer was actually no, I happily meandered off to go play on the tree in the backyard.  I’m assuming my dad later had a conversation with my mom about whether or not he actually had to watch football now, and the agreement was that due to how adorable I was in my youth and how happy I seemed about it, he clearly had to go along with it.  Fortunately for everyone, that cuteness wore off as I got older, so my blind enthusiasm was slightly less contagious.

That Sunday, there I was, successful in my mission, sitting with my oldest sister, mom and dad, watching football.

Glowing in my success, it was short lived as soon as I heard my dad shout, “I don’t understand why they aren’t kicking a field goal.  Kick the ball!”  I looked at the screen.  It was first down.  Fifty-yard line on the dot.  I looked back at my father.  Oh.  Maybe this is why he didn’t watch football.  He knew nothing about it, and for the next few years my mom spent most of the games explaining why it’s probably not a great idea to kick a field goal at the fifty-yard-line on a first down, and my dad kept joining us, and the frequency I decided game time was play outside time increased.

Learning is fun.

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Football: Catch the Fever but Not the Rash!