I was in 6th grade and it was my first football game ever. The Sault High Blue Devils were on the field, and I was totally amazed to hear Grandroobly yelling something like that, at the top of his lungs, no less. My grandfather (Grandroobly’s dad) was also with us. My cousin Mac was on the team, which was probably why we were there. I don’t remember Grandroobly going to many football games. The bank was open on Friday nights and that meant he had to work.
It was all very exciting. I mean, I don’t remember doodly-squat about who the other team was or who won and I sure didn’t understand the game. But it was a night game under those big lights and everybody was yelling and screaming and jumping up and down, all of which I *loved* to do, and they probably bought me popcorn or whatever and maybe even root beer at the A & W afterward.
I have occasionally disparaged football players here on this blahg, calling them neanderthals and whatnot. But my feelings are really a bit more complicated than that. I do think that young athletes, particularly in popular spectator sports like football, are often made into heroes before they have the maturity to handle the responsibilities that go along with stardom. In the worst cases, some of these kids get to thinking they are above the law, sometimes encouraged by coaches who have lost sight of the ball, so to speak. Too often the local newspaper headlines read “Football Players Caught Stealing Beer from 7-11” or “Star Quarterback Crashes Brand New Cadillac Escalade: Driving on Suspended License” or “Coach Hosts Party for Team, Alcohol Served” or (ugh) “Girl Alleges Gang Rape by Football Players.”
I also know that the athletes that make headlines like this are a small minority. Not all football players are inherently evil or even stupid. If my cousin and his friends ever made the newspaper, it was for helping the team win a game. Most coaches are not corrupt. And to be fair, I have met a few pretty sketchy music directors in my day, so this stuff is not limited to the world of athletics. But football is a high profile activity and I think that the participants should be just as carefully coached to be good citizens and compassionate, fallible human beings as they are in the fine points of the gridiron.
The real reason I don’t go to football games is that I’m simply not that interested. I still don’t understand the rules very well. I don’t care enough to learn. I’m not a very good spectator in general. Sitting around watching something for hours on end is not my bag. Concerts and plays fall into the same category. If I have to be at such an event, I much more enjoy the excitement and activity that goes on behind the scenes — a backstage kind of gal who likes to help keep things running smoothly. I still like to yell and scream and jump up and down but I need to have a better reason than because it’s what everybody else is doing.
It’s football season again. If you like football, go and have a great time! Yell and scream and jump up and down for me! I will be following the U of M schedule very closely so I can be as far away from the games and the crowds and the traffic as I can get. Kayaking, hiking, reading, writing, thinking, programming, knitting, beading, and slugging around on the beach if at all possible.