Football-Lite

“So how long have you been a fan?”

Stuck somewhere between those just there for the beer and the stat-dropping aficionados,

I am a moderate in a world full of football fan extremists.

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As a born and raised Pacific Northwest girl, the Seahawks have always been my football team. I didn’t watch them religiously growing up, but the games would be on and I would absorb a bit. Getting older, the social aspect of watching the game drew me in, the shared emotions and sense of connection with something bigger than oneself.  Once absorbed into the group-think haze of mutual enthusiasm and heartbreak, I learned that watching My Sillyhawks could be just as satisfying as cheering on my first love; baseball. And as a born philomath, it was impossible not to want to better understand the game itself. But I was content in my middle of the road, gray area understanding of the sport as well as “my team”.

Right before this season began, I discovered a Booster Club for them in my current city. There was something soothing about being surrounded by a crowd cheering, quite enthusiastically, for my home team. A natural comradery seemed to permeate the air… and I wanted to drink the kool-aid. So I  grabbed myself a seat in the midst of the blue/lime-green sea, and was quickly struck by a sense of not quite belonging.  Everyone around me was a FAN, just one step short of face painting.  I started to be worried…. Could they accept a non-über fan just genuinely cheering for her home team, without thinking I was just pretending to enjoy football? Or would they see someone who thought it was acceptable to wear a pink jersey? (ohhh, pink cause I am a girl!!!!) For the record, I don’t think this is okay for ANY sport… wear team colors. End of story.

“So how long have you been a Fan?”

Posed to me by a fellow blue/lime-green bedecked lady, I wasn’t entirely sure how to answer. Suddenly immersed in a world of trivia-spurting, name-dropping, stat-reciting, history-quoting FANS, I felt apart. And worse, I felt like an imposter. Ummm, always? was my tentative reply.  I waited with bated breathe to be uncovered. “Remove the imposter!” I heard the pitchfork wielding, torch-waving crowd cry in my mind.  Surely now, the gig was up and they would turn on me, like blood cells to an unmasked bacteria.

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“Oh, that is fantastic!” My still-smiling neighbor responded to me. “I have been a fan for about 10 years, but my boyfriend knows EVERYTHING about football.”  And said-boyfriend commenced explaining some the intricacies of the latest penalty to me. Soon it became a table-wide sharing of knowledge conversation.  After my first tentative I-am-going-to-look-so-dumb question was answered without a second look, I began to breath easier. There was no impending banishment.  Everyone there was excited to be there, and even happy for a chance to bestow some knowledge on an eager audience.

Then I remembered one of the most simple rules of conversation… People LOVE to share their knowledge, especially if it is something they adore. I had placed myself in a room full of extremely passionate, focused people.

All I had to do to in order to learn, in order to connect, was to ask.

They may not become close friends, but through the medium of football, I feel like I have found a little niche of home away from home.  I still don’t know the press conference quote of the week. I still have no idea what so-and-so is expected to do today based on Wednesday’s practice. And I still can’t comment on a comparison between our current coach and one from the 1980s. I am not going to become a super-fan. But I can show up today, and every Sunday. I can banter about last week’s game and groan with every mistake. And I can cheer.

So that’s me….Football-Fan-Lite: now with less intensity, but all the heart you want.

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