Not (yet) a Football Fan
I wrote a previous article about my determination to become a football fan. Previous Article: Not (yet) a Football Fan
This is a follow up.
Did the season start as planned? Did the Chargers win?
I guess I don’t need to say much more for you to know how my foray into football fandom is going: it’s not. I have some questions for anyone who is a die-hard fan, though:
· What makes you want to sit and watch a bunch of people you don’t know play a game you don’t play yourself?
· What drives you to stay focused and engaged when they stop playing every 15 seconds to line up again? Don’t you get bored?
· How many great plays are there in one game — or one Sunday? If that’s what you watch for, why not catch the highlights?
· Is it the food? Is it possible that you really watch football for the nachos and beer?
(Although, I have to say, people watch golf. And there are not even golf parties with nachos and beer for that. Listening to the man whispering the golf play-by-play is kind of hypnotic, maybe it’s a subliminal attraction.)
Back to football.
I can barely tell one player from another (Remember Jerry Seinfeld’s quote, that fans are basically “rooting for laundry” because the players change so often) — with all the gear and helmets and pads — yes, they have numbers and names, but that’s so impersonal. Although I’ll give you this: in football, at least you can see the ball — unlike ice hockey and that fast-moving, tiny, hard-to-follow puck.
If I knew a football player personally, I would come to his games and cheer for the team. I’d be glad for the wins and wallow with him in the losses. But it’s really hard to jump on this one-sided relationship of fandom where I get all engrossed in stats, injuries, and victories, and not one player would know me if we passed on the street. Not one player would even miss me if I didn’t make a game.
I realize, though, that I’m missing something that fans really enjoy.
The phrase “cathartic healing” is a fancy way of saying that rooting for your favorite team makes you feel better about your life.
Because it does. Virtually every study shows precisely that: The sense of goodwill, bonding and shared purpose that comes with being a fan has a ripple effect that can benefit all aspects of living.
Fans get so much from identifying with a team, in ways even players don’t. The athletes can be mercenaries, but the fan is permanent.
So maybe my “strategy” should be to just hang out with people who are fans, and not worry so much about researching a team or its players and see if fanaticism can be shared via social osmosis.
Don’t I seem like exactly the kind of person you need at your football party this Sunday?