The Non-Football Lover's Guide to Surviving Football Season
By Liz Riggs
August 30, 2013
Liz Riggs is a freelance writer and English teacher in Nashville, Tenn.She eats stories like grapes and has a very serious appreciation for macaroni and cheese.Follow her on Twitter at your own risk @riggser.
Ah, you feel that in the air? The sound of advertisers revving their marketing machines? The deranged screaming of the bro army? ESPN filling up their swimming pools with gold coins? It’s true. Football season is upon us again. For millions, it’s a return to their favorite time of year. And for some of us, well ...
So your boyfriend/husband/girlfriend/wife/fiancé/best friend/roommate fill-in-the-blank loves football and you couldn’t care less about the sport. You’re all, “Sundays are for naps and catching up on episodes of Breaking Bad,” and your friends have commandeered the television to get their sport on. September is the start of a football hater’s nightmare: An entire season devoted to something you just don’t feel like paying any attention to. So, while everyone else huddles around flat screens and drops entire paychecks on game day tickets, here are some ways to deal.
1. Learn Everything About Football
Football fans tend to think football haters just don’t understand football, and this is your chance to turn the tables. You needn’t learn all the names of all the players on all the different colored teams and start one of your own fantasy squad groups— that’s just crazy. But, you can get really into learning all the rules of the sport just to throw everyone off.
While you’re in the other room reading Jane Eyre and everyone around the TV starts screaming, just shout something like, “Pass interference?! Man! We can’t lose those 15 yards!” and get back to your book. P.S. This tip is especially useful if you learn some of the differences between the rules in college and NFL. People will lose their brains.*
2. Watch Friday Night LightsFor the football hater, these are the only football seasons worth investing in. It’s also a really wonderful little way to get through the fall. Every time someone starts talking about teams and plays and games and Y-A-W-N, you just start talking about Tim Riggins and the Dillon Panthers. People will say, “Did you guys see [somebody-you’ve-never-heard-of] make a play for [team you-don’t-care-about]?” And you respond with, “I hope the Panthers make it to state this year. Saracen really deserves it.”
3. Get Really Good at Football Snacks
Oh, you don’t feel like sitting in front of a T.V. or outside in the cold for five hours eating pork rinds out of a paper sleeve? Me neither. While everyone else is drafting for their fantasy teams and slinging onion rings, you can become a top chef.
They’re trying to grub on some Hot Cheetos, and you’re wrapping stuffed dates with some bacon. When someone brings over chips and salsa, you bring over quinoa stuffed peppers. Just like that, you’ve gone from football-hating spoilsport to indispensable party animal.
4. Learn Everything About One Player
Depending on where you live, this works really well. Pick one guy from the NFL and/or college team in your town and really invest. You should know everything from his yardage stats to his favorite color. His high school girlfriend to his pre-game meal. Where does he live? What music does he listen to? What’s his biggest flaw as a player? Then, when people start going nuts about the local game, you start dropping truth bombs. Someone mentions the team record, and you start slinging childhood factoids about the back-up quarterback. “Oh, it makes sense that he’d be into quarterback sneaks, given his childhood love for Inspector Gadget. Weird. Probably explains why he threw for 228 yards last season.” This is also extra entertaining if you refer to this player regardless of the team anyone is talking about.
5. Get Crazy Into Another Sport
This drives football fans nuts and works particularly well if the sport is sort of obscure but still believably interesting, like gymnastics. When someone turns on the game in your living room, pull up a gymnastics meet on YouTube and put your headphones in. During half time when everyone’s re-hashing whatever they’ve been watching for the past two hours, you can mutter to yourself: “Wow, a quad front with a twist. Very bold move this early in the routine.”
6. If You Can’t Beat ‘Em…
Ultimately, trying to avoid football in America is like trying to avoid Beatles lore in Liverpool. In both cases, you’re probably best off picking another battle and learning to love your football fan friends through the season. You may not understand it, but you’ve got your own weird obsessions too. And the more grace we start showing to each other’s quirks and fandoms, the more peaceful our Saturdays/Sundays/Monday nights will be.