I can’t care about football. I’ve tried. Really hard. I can watch a live game, with several beers in me. But even then I’m not watching, I’m just screaming when I know I’m supposed to scream.
I understand the game, I know the rules. I played pee wee football when I was a kid. I quit because it was miserable. The league I played in made teams by age and weight. I was a fat kid, which means everyone on my team was the same weight as me, but taller and older. Week after week of getting trampled by dudes who were already growing mustaches. That’s probably one reason I’m not into it.
The other reason is that it seems heartbreaking and frustrating. I’m coming at this from a strange position because I was born and raised, in Allentown, PA, a Philadelphia Eagles fan. When I was a kid they were pretty terrible team. My dad would watch games and get furious, angry as shit, yelling at the TV. Then he’d be depressed for a few hours. Looks like fun, Dad.
The second city I spent a good portion of my life in was Cleveland. I moved there at nineteen, and it was everything Browns. I jumped on board, then learned more about the Browns history and was like “maybe the Eagles aren’t as bad as I thought.” Some of my closest friends are Browns fans, and I’ve watched week after week of their frustration in following a team that loses so fucking much. It’s like watching torture porn.
On the other side of all that pain, I’ve seen the elation when things finally go your way. In 2004, I remember hearing how excited my dad was to see the Eagles make it to the Super Bowl, and I felt it too. I was like “FINALLY I GET IT.” Then they lost. And I was like “Ah, fuck. This hurts.” Which made me feel good about my choice to avoid football in the past.
A lot of people like to talk about football. The way some react when you say you don’t watch football, as a grown man, can be intense. Like saying “I never learned how to read,” or “I’d like to talk to you about Jesus.” There’s a heavy silence, and then I feel them debating where to take the conversation.
I could take a social/political stance against football, probably. That might be a fun way to redirect. Instead of talking stats and odds, I’ll just bring up all the terrible things a handful of NFL guys are regularly getting away with. But that’s just a case of dudes with money and privilege feeling invincible. And that’s a problem that reaches far beyond football. If I’m using that reasoning to avoid something I’d have to stop watching movies and voting, too.
I wish I could talk about it. I’d love to have an escape, a reason to hang out and drink with people, something to follow. It just doesn’t work for me. But I’m glad you like it, and I hope your team wins.