Today I am a social outcast. It’s Super Bowl Sunday, and I don’t care.
I’ve tried to like football, or at least tolerate it. But I can’t lie. It’s just not me. I don’t follow college sports. I don’t follow professional sports—except for baseball, America’s favorite pastime. I cheer on my kids when they play. But me? I just don’t get it. And I don’t want to get it.
For a while I tried to pretend that I didn’t understand football. Why are all those men chasing each other just to squat down on that funny-shaped brown ball? I figured if I asked enough stupid questions I’d be banned from viewing.
Feigning ignorance worked for a while. But then I realized I didn’t get it. When I grew up, I liked playing backyard football. I begged my dad to show me how to throw spirals. I can do it—but I still don’t have the right technique. I can catch. But it wasn’t until the women teachers participated in a Powder Puff football game that I realized I really was ignorant.
I don’t like being ignorant.
I tried out for the team, and the coach put me in as a receiver. It wasn’t until that moment that I realized that only certain players were allowed to catch the ball. I always figured whoever was open caught the pass. I knew nothing about linemen and skilled players, lining down and blocking.
It didn’t take long for the Powder Puff coach to realize I was a threat—to our team. I could catch, yes. But he used me to send in the plays. Whenever I popped in the huddle, I became so befuddled that I couldn’t remember the sequence of numbers or the special terms. 48 blitz to the right something or another. Ah, just do whatever.
He benched me.
Part of my job is to teach my journalism students how to write about sports. I learned an invaluable lesson. If you don’t know anything about the sport, don’t cover it. It was then I made it my personal goal to learn football. If I were going to teach my writers to cover sports, I had to learn how to do it myself.
So I found myself down on the sidelines with my camera and reporter’s notepad. I learned about stunting and off tackle. I could spot motion in the backfield, illegal blocking, horse collaring, face masking, and other penalties.
But I never could quite get the hang of shooting action shots on the field. My zoom always froze. I should have used a monopod. My hands were too shaky. Interviews with the coaches weren’t a big deal, but I really had to work at learning how to talk football.
I still don’t fully get it. I guess my heart’s just not into it. Oh, I understand the passion players possess. Kenny Chesney’s song “The Boys of Fall” paints a beautiful picture in a literary sort of way.
I thrive on competition. I played softball and wore my Hale’s Angels travel team uniform with pride. I was offered a scholarship to play at a junior college but went with the full-ride academic scholarship I had from MTSU.
When it came down to softball, I would do anything just to be on the field. I’ve played with fevers. I’ve dodged missiles whizzing past my face. I’ve been hit. I’ve been threatened by Amazon women on rival teams. I broke my own teammate’s nose when I was trying to make an out at home. I was dead on. I hurled the ball right to the catcher, and it caught her right between the eyes. I don’t know how she didn’t see it coming.
I get the blood, the sweat, the tears that come with the game. I just don’t get football.
My favorite part of Super Bowl Sunday is the half-time show, and this year it’s Madonna. No offense, Madonna, but I don’t get you either. I want music, not theatrics.
I can’t even enjoy the Super Bowl parties. I’m a dedicated Weight Watcher, and I don’t want to blow my points on chips and dip. Chocolate just doesn’t mean that much to me anymore. I’d rather be healthy. I’d rather not have to pry on my new jeans.
So Super Bowl Sunday, I don’t want to rain on your parade, but I am going to slip off and watch a chick flick while the men in my family watch the last game of the season. I think the Giants and the Patriots are playing. Somebody give me a fist bump. I didn’t even have to Google it to find out.
I don’t follow either team, but if I had to choose, I’d say go Pats. You’re as close as I can get to Boston right now. And for me, Boston means one thing—baseball.
Let’s get this game over with and start singing “Sweet Caroline.”