Originally posted onto Tastemakercollectivemedia.com 2/7/16
A Confession from a man who has absolutely no clue on how to play football, but is obligated to pretend to.
First, a disclaimer: I have been watching football for years, and I still have absolutely no clue of the rules on which the game is played. I know that there are two teams pitted against each other to deliver the ball into their respective end zones located on adjacent sides of the rectangular field. I also understand that once they get there, they are allowed to try to kick the ball between the raised and forked goal posts for a chance at an extra point. Got it, I’m on board. Football.
What I don’t understand is the specifics and rules. As a straight male though who is well past the statute of limitations of tugging on his daddy’s sleeve and begging for a description of the rules, I cannot ask anyone directly. There is a stigma that comes from not really knowing the rules of the games in all their complexity and its too late for me to ask anyone to clear the air. Although I have no clue what all the numbers on the bottom of the screen mean with the exception of the clock and score, I still absolutely love watching the game.
This Sunday was the Christmas-rivaling holiday that was the Super Bowl, and the 50th at that. Half a century has gone by with this religiously worshipped holiday taking place on a Sunday afternoon to the dismay of ignored housewives everywhere, and I have to wonder, how many people across the country are in same position as me? How many men across the country have absolutely no idea what is taking place on their television screens, yet we have to pretend we fully understand and can’t ask for clarification for fear of ridicule?
I can already hear the responses to my inquiry. “Bro, you don’t get football??” “How do you not get it, what kinda man are you? You stupid or something??” Like a lie that has been going on for much too long for me to come clean about, I can’t reveal that I have no clue the rules of football. I have to keep the charade up. I don’t have to pretend forever though—I just have to keep it up until the NFL disbands, and that won’t be too much longer, right?
Cam Newton and Peyton Manning. Got it. Those are the quarterbacks. I have a basic understanding of who is who and who does what, and with just that I can get by, and even have something cohesive to shout at the screen here and there so that everyone can know how passionate I am about the game: “Ah, why didn’t he pass it?!?” “NO, DON’T RUN IT!!” “Smart move, just take a knee. It’s what I would have done.” The key is to keep it vague.
It’s all easy until my girlfriend tries to ask me for clarification on the many aspects of the game. Again, that’s when you keep it vague, or try to overwhelm her with jargon. “You see, it’s up to the offensive coordinators who to advise the QB on which route is best in this current situation. You know, “Hail Mary” or “Going Deep”. His advice is invaluable to Peyton. Understand?” She usually just shakes her head and asks if I want a refill on my drink.
I would much rather have her think I’m knowledgeable than oblivious. After all, I’m a straight, beer drinking male in America, and as a straight, beer drinking male living in America, I have to know everything about football, especially on the holiest of holy days, Super Bowl Sunday.