Once upon a time, I dated a boy who really liked football. Like, REALLY liked football. I, on the other hand, wasn’t that into it. (Can you even imagine such a time? Shocking!)
I knew my hometown team won a bunch of Super Bowl rings and I could name a few players (Holla Joe Montana and Jerry Rice!), but when Sunday came around, there was no way I was going to waste the entire day sitting in front of the television.
Except that, if I wanted to hang out with the boy, that was exactly what I had to do. And, ugh, I wanted to hang out with him. So I started watching football. (Oh, young love.) And without even realizing it was happening, I was suddenly obsessed.
I loved football! I loved how passionate it made me -- the feeling of really caring about something. I loved the earth-shattering hard hits juxtaposed with the grace and elegance of a perfect catch. I loved the drama, the physicality, and the emotional highs and lows. I loved it all. I LOVED FOOTBALL.
That being said, I wisely refused be one of those (lame) girls who roots for her boyfriend’s team, so I decided I’d root for my hometown team: The San Francisco 49ers. Who, just in case you think I’d have the audacity to jump on a bandwagon (gross: never) were good, but not that good.
Over the next couple of years, the boyfriend took me to my first NFL game (Eagles vs. Giants in Philly), and I started going to Niners’ games on my own when I was in SF over Christmas breaks. We went to The St. Mark’s Ale House in the East Village together every Sunday to watch our teams, but sat at different tables (I was adopted by a group of 49ers’ fans; he preferred pacing like a crazy person) only to meet up again at the bar after our respective games.
Eventually we broke up (and them, omg, I totally dated a mutual friend who we met, that’s right: WATCHING FOOTBALL) and tried to remain friends, but didn’t do a very good job at it. Probably because I was a dumb whore who was dating our mutual friend who we met at the bar where we watched football. Just a guess though.
Fast forward to December 17, 2000 -- Jerry Rice’s last home game as a San Francisco 49er. The 49ers only won six games that season and in Jerry’s final home game, Terrell Owens caught a (then) record 20 receptions. As the game and our playoffs hope ended, Jerry Rice jogged onto the field for an emotional post-game goodbye ceremony.
And it was at that exact moment, as tears welled in my eyes, that the ex-boyfriend (we shared joint custody of the Ale House) bounded over to my table and said, “Well, you guys can always root for the (playoff-bound) Eagles!”
And so I sushed him. I probably shouldn’t have; after all, he didn’t know that we were mourning the “loss” of Jerry. But I did. I sushed him. I might have also said, “Not now.” Or “NOT NOW.”
Which was apparently not what he wanted to hear.
“ARE YOU KIDDING?” he screamed. In the very, very crowded bar that we went to every Sunday. And then he lost it. “I MADE YOU. I MADE YOU!!! YOU WOULDN’T EVEN LIKE FOOTBALL IF IT WEREN’T FOR ME!” Or something like (exactly) that.
This was over a decade though and I’ve used repression really successfully (I can "Eternal Sunshine" like the best of them), so I don’t remember the rest of it, but I do know it ended with me sobbing hysterically into my bottled of Budweiser while adamantly denying that he “made” me or had anything to do with my football obsession.
Except, if I’m honest about it -- over a decade later -- he kind of had everything to do with my football obsession. I didn’t love the sport because of him, but without his not-so gentle nudging, I wouldn’t have known there was anything there to love at all. Sure, maybe I would have discovered it down the road, but he got there first. He was the one who convinced me to watch a game. Who answered my questions about the players. Explained the penalty flags. Clarified the rules.
So, I admit it. And Ryan, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry. While you didn’t “make” me, you did introduce me to the NFL. It’s your fault I lose my mind 16 Sundays a year. I have you to blame for the fact that I care more about my team than most anything else. You are responsible for all the years I’ve lost of my life stressing over a dropped pass or bad call. My insane passion for the 49ers? Fine. I LEARNED IT FROM YOU.
(But you still shouldn’t have yelled at me.)
My story is probably fairly common. After all, they say that half of football watchers are women. (Although if this is true, I have no idea who these women are. They certainly aren’t my friends, most of whom just check the score in an effort to gauge my mood.) But what if you’re not one of the alleged 45 million women who loves watching the game? What if you don’t enjoy football, but you still want to hang out with your boyfriend or meet your friends at the bar on Sunday? What then?
Well, I’ll tell you what. Because I am about to get to my point! Which is, you don’t even have to love the game to enjoy watching it. And here’s why.
Five Reasons to Watch a Football Game Even if You Don’t Actually Give a Shit
1. Day Drinking. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. When you watch sports, you get to drink. If you live on the West Coast, this means you get to start drinking at 10 a.m. on Sundays. I mean, you could go to yoga class or on a hike OR YOU COULD POP OPEN A BEER LIKE A REAL AMERICAN.
2. Being Lazy. The only time I move my ass during a football game is to go to the bathroom. And then I run there and back during a commercial because I don’t want to miss a second. So, it’s like being lazy, but with random spurts of exercise. Except it’s actually just being lazy which is what you should be doing because IT’S SUNDAY AND THIS IS AMERICA.
3. Eating Junk Food. You know what doesn’t go with the NFL? Tofu. Or salad. Or, god forbid: Tofu Salad. You know what does go with it? Anything processed that gives you cancer. Think potato chips, chicken wings, burgers, nachos, anything that changes the color of your fingers until you give them a good tongue bath. Otherwise known as: THE FOOD REAL AMERICANS EAT.
4. Hitting. Hitting people is wrong blah blah blah whatever. Not during a football game. Aggressive high-fiving, violent congratulatory shoving, intense thumping on the back. Don’t hold back. THIS IS HOW WE SHOW EMOTION IN AMERICA.
5. Hot Guys. Personally, I don’t get emotionally involved with football players because I like to keep my head in the game without any distractions. But you? You don’t even LIKE football. So swoon over Tony Romo or Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady. Because objectifying talented people based purely on their looks? IT’S WHAT AMERICANS DO.
Face it. Sunday’s never sounded so good.
Follow Daisy Barringer on Twitter, especially if you love lots of cussing and emotional outbursts all day on Sundays.