January 31, 2010

It's My First Time Here

"Hi, my name is Madman, and I'm a groom who doesn't watch football.

Actually, I should broaden and clarify that statement. When I say watch I mean follow. I don't follow football. And when I say football I mean sports. I don't follow sports.

It could be my upbringing. Sure, Dad is a Dolphins fan as much as the next dad, but it was never a staple in our household. I've only been to about ten or twelve games, ever. I did play Little League for five years but crapped out the moment I got hit with a ball. Looking back, I guess I was a rather precious little ten-year-old.

The truth is that I've never been invested in it. Following a sport -- any sport -- is a time-consuming ordeal, and as with most things, I believe it's all or nothing. If I'm going to follow tennis, I would want to be able to predict swings. I would want to know both players' max speeds and the on-court official's officiating history. I would want to be present at all the matches -- not just the big ones. And the French ones, too. We're talking about an expensive endeavor.

Yesterday I stopped at Trader Joe's to get some demi baguettes and dried apricots -- not the most manly of grocery baskets. The friendly cashier began quizzing me (casually, sure, but it felt like an interrogation) about the Super Bowl. Thankfully I'd seen some coverage last week at the gym, so I knew the competitors, but that was the extent of my knowledge. I told him I wasn't a fan of either the Saints or the Colts.

Who's your team? he asks.
The Steelers, I say, a mechanical response I've grown accustomed to.
They had an okay season, he says, which is news to me. My team doesn't have a chance of going to the Super Bowl. Not in my lifetime anyway.
What team is that? I ask, dreading the response.
Oh-ho, I say, feigning a pity laugh. I have no idea what he's talking about.
Right? It's hopeless.
Hopeless. Eeesh. I am so lost. Might as well pack your bags now.

I later discovered that the Detroit Lions are the only team in NFL history to lose all 16 regular-season games (2008). They've also never qualified for a Super Bowl.

These are very obvious things that I should know ... shouldn't I? I should know when the seasons start. I should know the MVPs and which team belongs to which city. I should have a vague idea who won the last World Series, for chrissake.

It's my first time here, and I decided to come today because ... well ... I'm a groom. And a groom has responsibilities. I upped the Christmas gift this past December. I give 5% of my income to a jar in our kitchen marked Honeymoon. And for god's sake it's time for me to find a sport and like it. If anyone has any suggestions or inspiration, please let me know.

Anyway, thanks."

::mild group applause::

"Hi, I'm Maureen, and I'm a bride who doesn't use Etsy..."


  1. You should try this!:

  2. Football is definitely the way to go. Because you can zone out during the game and still get what's going on. With basketball, you've gotta pay attention the entire time, and that's just too much brainpower for me. And with baseball, it has me zoning out SO much that I end up just ignoring the entire game and missing the one play that actually made a difference. With football you also get through the holidays with families and such. Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's ... there's gonna be football games on so you might as well be a fan and not have to add even more awkwardness to the holidays by having another "Trader Joe's cashier" experience.

    I love reading your blog :) Keep up the good work.

  3. Just discovered your blog via my fiancee...good stuff man! I'm really enjoying your writing.

    I can totally relate to this post. Growing up in the Texas suburbs (basically a big-city version of Varsity Blues), football was THE primary social concern. Me being a band/debate/theater nerd, I couldn't care less about sports. College taught me how to enjoy the game of football, but I could never hold an intelligent conversation about the other teams in our division or in other regions. I just liked rooting for my school and being drunk & loud in the bleachers.

    As an adult, I've been paying attention to the NFL for about three seasons, and each year I feel more and more confident in my understanding of the football universe. It's a gradual process...just takes some time. A good tip is to make an effort to absorb a little information once a week. The Monday-morning headlines on NFL.com and ESPN.com tell you which match-ups were big and/or newsworthy, and a minute of scanning the weekend's scores helps keep you updated on who's doing well/poorly. That'll provide enough fodder for water-cooler conversations beyond just smiling & nodding. After a season or two, you'll feel comfortably informed.

    Just don't make the mistake of joining a Fantasy league like I did. Those Fantasy guys are hard-core, they know all the names & positions, obsess over every player's stats, and can really make a guy feel self-conscious.

    Also, I agree with Anonymous. Football is the best for all the reasons stated above, plus: there's only one game a week (as opposed to 3 or 4 games for basketball & baseball), so it requires less time & energy to stay informed. Basketball has 83 games in a season. Baseball has 162. Football? 20.