Love and Football (continued)

My little treat tonight.

My little treat tonight.

As last night’s entry on my “love affair” with football turned out longer than I intended, I couldn’t truly say everything I wanted to about the subject. Watching football holds nostalgic significance for me and perhaps that’s another reason why I don’t watch it much anymore. That statement doesn’t seem to make much sense, but hear me out.

While I did watch some high school football games, most of the football I watched was the NFL on television. I also remember watching some arena football games when they tried to make that big on TV for a brief period. Growing up, I remember football on Sundays being about enjoying yummy snacks and listening to my father grumble about his team, the Buffalo Bills, not doing so hot. The Bills did okay for a few years, but overall, I don’t remember them doing exactly stellar. I didn’t really have a favorite team when I was a teenager, I just liked watching the games and I’d root for whatever team or player happened to be running an exciting play at the time.

Another way I remember watching football is not actually watching it, but falling asleep during it. You see, my horseback riding lessons were on Saturday mornings and in the winter, I’d come home almost frozen solid from riding around in a barn for an hour and sometimes helping out afterward. I remember coming home, curling up under a blanket on the big, marshmallow couch in the family room, turning on whatever Saturday game I came across first, and being lulled to sleep by the sound of the commentators. I’d eventually wake up all thawed out and cozy again and by then the TV would be showing the next game. Nowadays, I still almost nod off just listening to football commentators.

When I moved out of my parents’ house to live in an apartment, I finally found a team I wanted to root for. Though I’ve received much ridicule and eyebrow raising for my choice, I still stand by it. The team I chose as my favorite is the Detroit Lions and I’ll explain why. One fall day in 1998, I was watching them play on the TV in the apartment. I remember being impressed by their young quarterback, Charlie Batch, as he took risks that the commentators didn’t agree with. Perhaps I was attracted to the quarterback’s rebellion or just the whole underdog feeling of the team or a combination of many factors, but right then and there, the Lions became my team. I remember talking to my father about the Lions and he’d always tell me that they did really well in the 1950’s. I think the memory of him always saying that is another reason why the Lions still are and always will be MY team. Add into that the fact that my girls are both Leos and that I’ll always be able to watch the Lions play on TV at least once a year, and it’s all good. =)

I admit that I haven’t watched the Lions play or any football really, in at least a year. I don’t even know how my team is doing this year. They’ve had some decent years but they always seem to blow it in the end. Why haven’t I watched? One reason is that I’m usually too busy to watch TV for that long and if I do, I prefer watching a movie. Another reason is that it’s not as much fun anymore. Watching football alone now doesn’t give me the warm, fuzzy feelings it did in the past. My daughters have no interest in watching it and without a reason to have a table full of snacks for everyone to snarf as we watch, I kind of forget it’s still on. I’m sure it doesn’t help that the men I’ve had in my life have always seemed to rank football as a higher priority than me, which dampened my enjoyment of the game considerably. I’m sure I’ll enjoy watching it again someday, snuggled up on a couch with the right man, who even if he rolls his eyes at my choice of teams, thinks it’s awesome that I love football. Because I do still love it, but it just doesn’t fit my life right now. Someday…

Love and Football

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Today was a warm (for November in NY), blustery, and sunny fall day and it felt like perfect football weather. I’ve never played football outside of gym class in school 100 years ago, but I have watched many games on TV and some in person, specifically the games played by the school football team when I was in 9th grade. That year was when I really took an interest in football and made an effort to learn more about the game.

The reason I took such an interest in football during junior high was, not surprisingly, that I had a crush on a few of the football players. I admit that I’m a girl who likes males who are in good shape and athletic. My desire for athletic men isn’t because I’m so athletic that I need a comparable man to keep up with me. Honestly, I’m not personally very athletic or overly coordinated.

What do I mean by not overly athletic? Well, I throw balls like a girl (because I AM one), I rarely ever connect a bat with a ball if there isn’t a T involved, my basketball layups are ridiculous to watch, and I’m more likely to say “don’t got it” in volleyball than “got it” for starters. Back in school, I’d stand in the outfield praying the ball never came anywhere near me, I never chased the ball in soccer, I thought field hockey was an excuse for girls to hit each other’s shins with wooden sticks (so I avoided the ball at all costs), and I played tennis against the wall more than actual opponents. The only gym sports I enjoyed playing were badminton and floor hockey, and riding horses was as athletic as I ever got. I do however play soccer, basketball (I don’t have a hoop), Frisbee, and football with my girls because it’s fun. Maybe I like athletic men because I believe that a bookworm like me winning over a “jock” is a major victory for bookworms everywhere! I also entertain the hope that an athletic man will be willing to teach me how to play sports better, or at least think it’s cute that I’m a klutz. On the other hand, maybe it’s just because I’m shallow and love muscles; nobody is perfect. 😉

Where was I? Oh yes, 9th grade! That year I was crushing on one football player in particular. He was in my French class and he actually seemed to know I existed, unlike a majority of the other boys in the school. I’d moved to the school a couple years before from a much smaller district and I never really felt like I fit in there. Regardless, this football-playing boy seemed like a genuinely nice person and he was easy on the eyes. I remember I’d walk the family dog Cassie down to the nearby park some afternoons and he’d be there with other local boys playing football on one of the fields. I’d sit on the bleachers, listen to them call plays, and watch them run around with the pigskin. One day in particular stands out in my mind because on that day amid their play calling, the boy I liked called out “Hut, hut, Julie, can you hear me?” I’m surprised I didn’t die of embarrassment/shock/elation right there on the bleachers! He and I had never said a word to each other but he’d just called my name out across the park!

Had I been a bolder girl, I would’ve walked up to him after the game and started a conversation. Alas, I was not a bolder girl; I was a shy, semi-introverted bookworm, so I just watched them finish playing and then walked the dog ahead of them as they left the park. Mind you, he could have come up to talk to me too, but he didn’t. Regardless, I decided it was past time I learn more about football! For purely research purposes of course…

To further my football education, I went to the local library and checked out a book explaining the rules and plays of high school football. It wasn’t a very long book, it had several helpful diagrams, and I recall reading it cover to cover. Amid my “research”, I would also hang out on the hill behind the school football field and watch the team practice after school. I daresay that was one of my bolder moves at that age, but I’m glad I did it. I also attended a few Saturday afternoon home games and stood right on the sidelines to watch. I don’t know why someone didn’t tell me to get my butt somewhere safer, but I learned after a few close calls to keep my eyes open and my feet nimble to avoid being run over by out-of-bounds football players.

Unfortunately, the football-playing boy in question and I never actually had a real conversation. I remember we’d exchange looks now and then and I’m sure I blushed, but that was it. I couldn’t comprehend/accept that such a cute, athletic young man would be interested in mousy little me. The following year, he enrolled in a private school and I never saw him again. Regardless, that experience was enough to pique my interest in football and I continued to learn more about it over the years. That knowledge is lost in rather thick cobwebs these days as I focus on so many other things in my life, but I’ll never forget those breezy fall days full of “love” and football.