As much as anyone, I’m terribly sick of the whole “women watching sports!” thing as a comedy bit. I mean, we get it: men hate holding our purses as we try on shoes; we hate rolling our eyes through the playoffs.
When I set out to watch an entire football game for this article, I came from a place of understanding. It’s not that I can’t understand the game, I thought, but rather, that it just kind of, well, bores me. I’ve never been able to sit through an entire game, and I even dated a die-hard Packers fan for over a year. I always busied myself making beer and cheese dip in the kitchen for perhaps longer than necessary, peeking out only when I had an inkling Clay Matthews was getting screen time (I am also sick of women writing about Clay Matthews, but that’s largely a jealousy thing).
Living in New York City, I figured there was no better team to devote four hours to than the Jets. So on a recent Sunday, I called a friend who’s a fan and asked if he wanted to tag along for the ride: I was going to watch an entire football game… even if it killed me.
We’re settled in on the couch and I, nursing a terrible hangover, cozied up to a pint of pumpkin beer. It’s my first one of the season, and something about it just seems right: football, fall flavors and crisper weather. The 5th floor apartment stuffy air detracts a bit from the ambiance and I wish I was in a parking lot with other fans to get me ramped up, but hey: tailgating is a state of mind.
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Kickoff! I’m admittedly a little stoked. This could be great; I could find my next big passion in life. I could become a fan! If nothing else, I’m committed to enjoying and understanding the game.
Geno Smith celebrates touchdown (Photo Credit: Rich Schultz /Getty Images)
The Jets score their first touchdown of the game. I almost put my hands together in excitement but stop myself. There’s no clapping in football, right?
My friend points to Mark Sanchez on the sidelines and regales me with the infamous “butt fumble” story. I spend three minutes debating whether or not Googling “butt fumble” is a bad idea (it’s not).
My first yawn.
A discussion of cheerleader outfits devolves into a debate over whether women actually wear garter belts and thigh-high stockings in real life. I vehemently vote no; he’s convinced we do. I suggest a more realistic fantasy of legwarmers, then proceed to spend the next couple minutes Googling crocheted stockings.
Photo Credit: Ron Antonelli/Getty Images
My friend steers me back on course with an in-depth discussion about punting. I’m listening intently. I really want to understand this.
Okay. I think I’ve got punting down.
I spoke too soon. I definitely do not understand punting.
I realize that I’ve spent the last seven minutes building my “kitchen inspiration” board on Pinterest. I honestly have no idea how that happened; I must have blacked out. Refocusing my attention back on the game.
“Isn’t it true that players can choose how many face-protection bars they want on their helmets?” I feel extremely proud to be able to display my knowledge of this factoid.
I’m met with a tepid reaction: “Uhh, yeah.”
Stephen Hill touchdown catch (Photo Credit: Ron Antonelli/Getty Images)
Pretty amazing catch by someone named Holmes. Even I have to admit that was impressive. Commence Googling Holmes.
#84, Stephen Hill, has scored a touchdown for the Jets. I miss this because I have started looking through the roster and clicking on the players with the highest weights. I’m weirdly fascinated by how they condition their bodies.
The QB for the Jets throws away a good play; he walks away and totally misses a hike (hey guys, I totally know what a hike is). This doesn’t incite the emotional reaction of a true sports fan but I do allow myself to feel something. Empathy, perhaps?
With a field goal from the Jets, it’s the end of the first half. We decide to migrate to a bar; maybe the group camaraderie will encourage me to rally and join in the team spirit. Also, we want wings.
The Jets have successfully completed a long pass but I miss this because our table has white paper and crayons, and I’ve started coloring. I’m not doing as well as I thought I would at this. And there are definitely not enough colors of crayon available to complete my autumn scene.
R. Kelly’s “Ignition” comes on over the speakers. Yes. The night is looking up. (And I guess it really is true that music brings people together at sporting events; the whole bar is timidly grooving in their seats).
Okay, who’s iPod are we listening to? “Big Pimpin’” is now playing.
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Our order of wings, chips and salsa arrives. I love football!
Check out the Top 10 Regional Tailgating Foods.
“This game is sort of close,” my friend comments.
“Yeah, it’s exciting!” I say with cheery enthusiasm but realize I am half faking it.
A man at the bar wearing a Jets jersey and Jets backpack (I am serious) is yelling like all get-out. He’s eliciting a few slaps on the back from strangers, but mostly eye rolls and raised eyebrows. I think it’s awesome; I wish I cared that much.
It’s been almost three hours. Is this how my exes felt at the ballet?
Touchdown from the Bills. Four-year-old me does a little victory dance for my father’s favorite team but present me claps my hands up to my cheeks and moans “Oh no!” A few people turn and stare.
The game is tied. This is actually kind of exciting. We have a brief discussion of the origin of the phrase “Any given Sunday,” and I have to admit I feel a little bit of a thrill.
Santonio Holmes (Photo Credit: Rich Schultz /Getty Images)
The Jets score a touchdown and the bar goes freaking wild. I am excited, but not that excited. Yay?
I describe a player’s victory dance as “adorable” and immediately regret it.
The end is near. I dig my heels in and commit to watching as intently as humanly (femininely?) possible. “Keep moving the chains,” as they say. (I just learned what “keep moving the chains” means.)
Game over. Jets win. I survived. On the walk back to the apartment, I’m a little disappointed at how little I feel. I suppose I was expecting some sort of transformation, or a deeper appreciation for the game. I love tailgating, I love the camaraderie and I definitely love the food, but I just don’t love the sport.
Still, as we round a corner, a woman notices our hats. “Hey! Nice win,” she tosses at us with a smile. I can’t help but hold up my hands in victory. It really was.
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