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The leaves are changing and the air is crisp, and that means it’s time for the boys to start throwing the ol’ pigskin around again. The NFL kicked off its regular season a few weeks ago, and this year I desperately want to figure out how this game fucking works.
When it comes to football, I am completely ignorant of the intricacies to the game. I’ve got the concept down: you try to get the ball to the other end of the field, I know two positions: the quarterback and the kicker, and I know names of the players who have dated the Kardashians: Derrick Ward, Reggie Bush, and Miles Austin. Other than that, I’m in the dark. I feel like I’m filling the stereotypical role of the dumb broad who can’t comprehend sports, and got most of her football knowledge from watching Remember The Titans when it was on ABC Family every single night for five years.
I have a lot of respect for women who actually get football and know their shit. I also appreciate when they keep it to themselves instead of live-tweeting a game in an obvious effort to draw attention to the fact that they’re watching a football game AND have a vagina. While I don’t think I’ll ever be at that level, I would feel a little better about myself if I could stop asking dumb questions about how a team can have 3 points when I thought the scoring was only in multiples of 7.
Talking with my female peers, I’ve come to realize that most of them learned about the game from watching with their dad growing up. I have a substantial handicap in this regard. My dad has probably never even watched a televised NFL game. He grew up in a state with no professional sports teams, and just never got into it. I was once with him in a sporting goods store while he was wearing a Philadelphia Eagles tee shirt, and the cashier asked him who they were playing that day. He had to admit he had absolutely no idea, and that shirt silently disappeared after that interaction.
Since my father is out as my sports mentor, I’ve had to rely on other sports fans in my life as resources. I’ve been to many a Super Bowl party where I strategically position myself next to someone who gets it and I know will be nice enough not to freak out on me for asking questions every five minutes. A kind friend of mine once had her husband, who coached high school football, draw a diagram for me to outline how the lines work on the field for the player formations, and he listed the positions and what each of them do. It was semi-helpful in the moment, but I can’t walk around for the rest of my life with a football cheat sheet I pull out for games.
My significant other is such a saint hanging out with me on Sundays while I just spout out the most basic questions, and pick which team to root for based on which uniform has a better color scheme. I’ve asked him about his “draft” multiple times and he always gently reminds me that it’s only called a draft when you pick the first time, after that it’s just called a fantasy team. He spends the entire time during commercial breaks explaining to me why what’s going in is either good or bad, who isn’t playing well, how downs work, etc. It’s like a part-time job for him, and I wouldn’t even be upset if he told me I’m not allowed to watch the games with him anymore.
The thing about football is it’s so much information to absorb. There’s a million different kind of “whatever-backs” on the field, and there are different plays where you can do different things. The quarterback doesn’t always just throw the ball, sometimes he’s running, or sometimes they kick the ball when they haven’t scored a touchdown. I swear every time I watch, the NFL adds a new rule just to prevent me from ever figuring my shit out.
The worst part of this whole issue is I genuinely want to understand what’s going on and it just isn’t clicking. I feel like a terrible American every time I hear the people in the stands going wild and I have no idea why. I want to be cheering along with them.
It is my 2017 goal to have this year be the year I finally grasp how it’s done and can follow a game in its entirety. Maybe if I figure it out a little bit more, I could dye my hair blonde and ESPN will hire me as a sideline reporter. .