If you were to ask me 5 years ago how much I cared about football, I probably would have compared it to how much I care about Walgreens. I don’t dislike Walgreens, and I’m glad that it’s around, but I’d probably rather spend my time elsewhere. It was the same with football. Sure I enjoyed it when it was on or when it was relevant to me, but it wasn’t something that I particularly invested into. But we are in the thick of yet another football season and I want to share my journey to football fandom.
Every football season two camps become very polarized on this spectacle. The fans, and the anti-fans. Every Sunday social media gets flooded by cheers and jeers for the home teams and rivals. And then there is the other camp. The haters. While not as loud, are equally passionate about how they feel. But instead of feeling proud they feel annoyed. After all it is just a game, and it’s not like most people have any real tie to players on the team, and often times people don’t even live in the home town of the sporting team they rally for. So their content is understandable.
This left me at a cross roads. I could either cut out a white picket fence and paint my face, or pull over my hood and plug my ears. What was I do to?
Ultimately my decision came down to one simple word: Comradery
Comradery is an interesting concept. Despite cultural or philosophical differences, people can come together in one mind and one purpose and live together within that moment. I may not know the guy across the hall with a Seahawks hat, but I do know that we are both fans of the same team and that makes us connected. Come game time we’ll be slapping five and talking trash on the 49er fans down the hall. We can come together in spirit of our team. Even in the most uncomfortable places fandom breaks barriers. They say that there are only 3 reasons you would ever speak to someone on an elevator. One is the floor you want, another is the weather, and the third is sports. Beyond that people do not speak in elevators. Sports have such a unique sense of comradery that we can create a bond with a complete stranger in an elevator. What else can do that?
Now I could dump my emotions into any sport, but I believe that football is the sport to do it. Most of that comes with the nature of the game. In basketball or baseball most seasons are long and drawn out, and real fandom doesn’t take hold until the playoffs. But in football every game matters. There are 16 chances for your team to address their dominance and every game is as important as the last. Football is the cream dela cream of professional sports.
But to me it’s more than that. One of my favorite things about football is that it is truly a team sport. You need your offensive line just as much as you need your wide receivers. Unlike basketball, just stacking your team with a few MVPs doesn’t guarantee you a victory. This makes it so any team, even the 8-8 Giants can still come back to win it all. That is what makes football so engaging. Your team can be behind by 14 points with minutes left and still come back to win.
The other reason I love football is because of the type of game that is being played. Certain games require extreme finesse and coordination like baseball or golf. Other games require masterful technique and endurance like basketball or soccer. Football not only has all of these elements, it has the king element of any game: Strategy. Of course every sport has at least some sort of strategy, but the backbone of football is strategy. Every play is a calculated chess move that pits the offense against the defense. The coach and QB are the grandmasters and are trying to outsmart the other team. It’s what makes Risk a better game than Monopoly. The idea that you are in control of the situation and you can outsmart your opponent. That is a fun thing to watch.
So why did I ultimately become a football fan? Because it’s fun. We live in a world that requires 9 hours of day to work, chores to complete, kids to tend, relationship to cultivate and otherwise work to do. Why not add a bit of spice to your life and let the magic of football increase your dopamine and add some fun into your life. Pick a team and join the ranks of fans. As someone who has gone from indifference to buying jerseys and reading fantasy articles I can promise that it’s better than hating it. Embrace the comradery, you won’t regret it.