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A Woman’s True Confession: I Finally Understand the Male Obsession with Football
Football season is here, which means that for the next few weeks – 90% of the male population of the United States will spend a huge amount of their “free time” watching games on TV (the bigger the screen , the better), to attend football games (Friday=high school, Saturday=college, Sunday & Monday=Pro), and of course every day of the week they will moan,
moaning or chanting about their Fantasy League, uh, excuse me, in most cases – just do Fantasy Leagues… because it seems like you can’t join just one.
Now I grew up in a female dominated household – 3 women (mom, me and my sister) and one man (dad, unless you count the dog…but he tended to be loyal to the person with the food in hand), and I have to admit we tended to make Dad as unhappy as possible about his “obsession” with football. We whined and fidgeted every time he tried to watch a game, and sooner or later he usually gave up and let us watch “girly stuff”.
My first husband was never a huge sports fan, so for most of my adult life my exposure to football was minimal, but a few decades later – new husband, new life… new style of life.
And suddenly I find myself in the middle of a VERY sporty family – with a particular emphasis on football. So for the first time in my life I found myself attending Friday night high school games, supporting my stepson as he ran down the field, yelling at the umpires even though I wasn’t always all absolutely sure WHY I was screaming But hi! you let yourself be carried away by the enthusiasm of the moment.
For 3 years I never missed a game, in the rain and snow, I bundled up and cheered on the team, sometimes to victory and sometimes to defeat. I learned to understand the game and enjoyed being a fan more every game. I cheered as the team came home after each win and sang their fight song, and endured long, quiet drives home when they lost.
But – I never really understood the “obsession” until my stepson’s last game in high school.
The game was over, the weather was cold and drizzly, the song was over and the seniors returned to the field one last time, helmets in hand. They stood there, silent, exchanging hugs and pats on the back, and one by one they knelt on one knee and just looked around, as the lights flickered around the stadium.
The silence was deafening – and the emotion overwhelming.
Most of these boys had played football together since the age of 9, training and playing as a team for long months every year, sharing bumps, bruises and injuries, big wins and bigger losses. , developing a camaraderie that few women will ever experience.
And now suddenly – it was over. Most of the boys would never put on the pads and uniform again, never be part of that team spirit again. If you play baseball – you can play in one form or another for the rest of your life, but football is over for most men with this last Friday night high school game.
And so the obsession with all things football is born – it’s a lifelong quest to recapture even a small part of that high school team experience, the closeness, the camaraderie that was worth it.
In a few brief moments that night, I suddenly understood the deep chasm left in the lives of these young men, the sudden void in their hearts, and felt sadness for a loss I could never truly understand.
My stepson was lucky – he now plays varsity ball on Saturdays, so the “last game” was delayed a bit. I still don’t share the same enthusiasm for weekend football marathons as my husband and two sons – but at least I understand their passion/obsession more easily, and that goes a long way towards a peaceful and happy weekend at home.
Of course, having more than one TV also helped…
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