So it’s that time of year again. The air is getting cooler (lame), the days are getting shorter (double lame) and football is back on TV (HOLY FUCK SHITBALLS YES AWESOME).
Usually, this is when the betches ask me to do some kind of sports roundup, and I go ahead and do some very lazy research into the teams I don’t care about, and then I write it and 90% of you read it and go “stop writing these NO ONE FUCKING CARES.” It really makes my years of unpaid labor worth it to know how much you guys enjoy my contributions. Anyway, this time I’m going to do it a little differently. Instead of just talking about what’s happening in football, I’ll try to answer some common questions girls have surrounding football and guys’ obsession with it.
So, why do guys go so crazy for sports in general?
Couple of reasons. For one, competition and displays of physical prowess are deeply imbedded in the male psyche. It’s part of what makes us men. Just about every guy grows up learning to idolize sports stars as the apex of masculinity. When most of us figure out that we’ll probably never be professional athletes, watching and being invested in sports is the next best thing we have. For two, just about every guy has an innate desire to beat the living shit out of someone/something from time to time. Typically, the law frowns upon such things, but sports offer an outlet. In baseball, you can smash the ball with a bat and hurl it at high speeds inches from another guy’s head. In football, you can use your own body to literally destroy the other guy. But that way, we can live vicariously through our favorite athletes, and even do it ourselves if the opportunity arises. Ever actually played a sport, even if you aren’t great at it? It’s fun!
But why football? Why do guys spend all day on Sunday in a bar watching it?
Football is unique in a few ways. The game itself offers opportunities for exciting plays, whether your team has the ball or not. In baseball, when your team’s on defense (not batting), you want literally nothing to happen. You want your pitcher to strike them all out so your guys can get back to hitting. In basketball and hockey, the action goes back and forth so much that it’s hard for any one play to be climactic. But in football, there’s always a chance something big can happen. The opportunity for mayhem is ever-present.
Logistically, the season is short, just 16 weeks (if you don’t count bye weeks and all the bullshit preseason games). Also, each team only plays once per week, with the majority of games happening on Sunday (a bunch at 1:00, two at 4:00, and one at 8:00). That means if you want to watch them all, you basically have to go somewhere. Even if you paid out the ass for the NFL package at home, you’d be forced to flip around constantly. So when we go to the bar, we can see all the games at once. It’s also a great time to bond with your bros without having to be blackout at some shitty club. And yes, for the non-single guys, it’s a nice reprieve from the womenfolk. We need our “me” time, too.
Wait, why do you want to see all the games? Don’t you just root for one team?
Yes, but you can thank online games for that, particularly fantasy football. Fantasy football is where you create a virtual team by “drafting” (selecting, lottery-style) players for offensive positions from all around the league. You score points based on the cumulative performance of your starters (for defense, you only select from one existing team). So, your quarterback might play for one team, but your receivers and running backs might play for totally different ones. It was a genius thing created by the NFL to make more people care about more games, and it fucking worked.
That sounds terribly nerdy. Why bother?
It’s mental masturbation, which might be guys’ second favorite thing behind sports. You get to pretend you’re a high-powered NFL team executive, because you choose which of your players “start” in each position. “Oh, well I guess I’ll give Andy Dalton a shot at the starting QB position. He’s shown good hustle lately.” I’m not saying it’s not kind of lame, it’s just incredibly popular. I don’t do it, myself. Too much time to invest. But, for those who do, it makes sure you have some skin in more than just one game.
Great, so my guy wants to avoid me for an entire day to watch idiots run into each other. What are his expectations for me?
Whoa whoa, missy. Your guy is not “avoiding” you, this is just something that interests him but probably not so much you. After all, he only gets to do this once per week (I don’t count Thursday and Monday nights, since those are “school” nights) for about 4 months per year. Unless it’s the playoffs, no other sport inspires this kind of massive dude-gathering. It’s like Burning Man for straight guys, except I know the gay bars get just as packed on Sundays. Football: the great equalizer Obama only wishes he could be. Anyway, his expectations for you are basically non-existent. If it’s your boyfriend or husband, he’s not going to care about the occasional check-in via text if you have nothing else to do. If you just started seeing someone, let him be. At least you know he’s not at a titty bar (probably). Just take this time for yourself. Go to the gym, get your nails done, go to brunch, etc.
Hmm, straight guy Burning Man, you say? I’m single, would a sports bar be a good place to meet guys?
Eh, it’s tough. It’s kind of like trying to meet guys at the gym – we’re there with a purpose. It’s not the same as meeting guys in a non-sports bar when there’s no football on. For one thing, we don’t really expect to even see a lot of girls there, let alone meet any. The only times I see girls at my usual watching-spots is when they’re in a giant mixed group, usually because they all root for the same team. But, it’s definitely not impossible. As with the gym, you have to look like you’ve been there before. We’ll be in a group, so you should probably drag a couple of friends with you. You’ll have to be more proactive than normal (we can only focus on one thing at a time), which, ugh, means not being completely clueless when it comes to the game.
Wait, so there’s fucking studying involved? What’s the bare minimum knowledge I can get away with?
Good question. For one thing, have a team. There’s no shame in just picking up whatever team’s local to you if you’re just getting into the sport. Learn the key players on that team: Quarterback, running backs, tight ends, and wide receivers. If your defense has some standout guys, learn those too. All told, you’re talking about a maximum of ten names you need to remember. Get a sense of how they’re doing this year (wins, losses), and also see how the team they’re playing is doing. In the game, know the basics. Know which team is in control of the ball, and recognize when good and bad things happen. Know the very basics of the scoring. That should get you started.
Ok, I’m at this shitty bar and we met these guys in Bears jerseys by saying that Cutler looked confident in the pocket today. That’s about as deep as I go. Will I look like an idiot if I have to ask them about other things?
Not at all! Guys know that football is pretty confusing relative to other sports (hell, even the refs get it wrong sometimes). Plus, it makes us feel like MANLY MEN when we get to show of our big, throbbing, sexy sports brains for you. In fact, you might be better off knowing less than knowing too much. That’s a horrible thing to say, so hear me out: Every guy knows a girl who’s, like WAY too into football, and it’s off-putting. Imagine if, say, you knew a straight guy who was really, really into women’s fashion. It would just be weird, right? It’s kind of like that. Now, sometimes guys will bring along girlfriends who are really into the game, and that’s different. If you’re a true fan, it is what it is and no one can fault you for that. But if a guy meets a girl who claims to be the world’s biggest Patriots fan (and is), that’s gonna be weird unless she’s from Boston. TAWMMY AND THE PATS ARE THE FACKIN’ BEST! THIS IS OW-AH YEAR! WE’RE BAHSTON STRAWNG! Those people can die in a fire, by the way.
Well, that wasn’t so bad. Why have the betches not written a post about how delicious chicken wings are? Also, how might I get more into football without being a loser about it?
Whoa, keep your dick-beaters off my wings. If you want to care just a little more about football, that’s easy – join an online pick ‘em pool. It’s NOT fantasy football. instead, all you do is pick a winner for every game that week. That’s as complicated as it gets. That way, if you find yourself at a sports bar on Sunday, you at least have a little reason to care no matter who’s playing. Plus, you get to make cute names for your team. In one of my pools, my team is named DEEZ NUTS. I thought that was pretty rad.
So there you have it. This was long, but I promise I won’t have to do this again for the rest of the year. If you have football related questions, email me. I’ll answer without being a dick about it.