My husband looks forward to football season like a castaway being rescued from a desert island. He grew up watching football and playing it; football players were his earliest heroes. All of his family members love football, and all of his friends. He went to a college where a good percentage of the students attended because of the football team. You may get the impression upon hearing him talk about college that at this school, football was the most popular major, most people who attended were football players, and all the students spent most of their time talking about, studying for, and dreaming about football. He has decorated two rooms in our home with football memorabilia. His ideal life would be days spent watching and commenting on football with a world full of like-minded people.
I do not enjoy football. I did not grow up playing it or watching it. The rules and nuances of the game escape me, and I focus on the jerks of the football world as representative of all football players everywhere. The noise of the crowd when watching on TV gives me a headache. I only watch football in the interest of family or relationship solidarity. You may sense that football season is represented by tension and angst in my house. You are correct.
The more my husband expresses his passion for football, the more my passion against it intensifies. I have dreamed about all the football stadiums in America being hit by rogue meteors. I have toyed with slowly de-footballing my home one piece of memorabilia at a time, or staging a robbery where only our football décor goes missing, or asking the cable company to scramble only our sports channels. My husband bought a life-size cardboard cut-out of his favorite football coach and proudly displays it in high-traffic areas in our home. I retaliate by hiding it in unexpected places around the house to surprise and scare him on the off-chance that he might punch or wrestle it to the ground, in effect ruining it so it can be thrown away.
I know I’m in the minority. I get that football is a favorite sport to millions of people. I just happen to not be one of them. I spend most of my time trying to teach my children that there are better ways of conflict resolution than violence; I don’t understand idolizing barbaric forces of men whose profession is to bulldoze each other. I feel that people put too much emotion into worrying about their football team winning when they could be focusing more on relationships and making the world a better place. Violence, anger, division between loved ones: this is what football represents to me. With this in mind, I realize that fighting about football with my husband is just not productive. If I focus on it, I will give it the power to destroy, like these poor men do to each other each fall. So instead, I have made up a mantra to repeat to myself during football season. You may adopt it for yourself if you, like I, was born without the football gene:
Although football season fills me with the venom of a truckload of pit vipers, I will accept that, like PMS or too-bright blonde highlights, it is only a temporary and unpleasant moment that will pass like a vapor when life moves inevitably forward. There will be a day soon when we are blissfully rid of such upheaval, a day when paradise is once again found. In February.