Football season is upon us! Cue the choir of angels! Raise your hands and give praise!
In southern Louisiana, I don’t get to enjoy everything that I love about fall. The weather cannot be categorized as “cooler” until sometime in October, my hoodies are collecting dust somewhere in my closet, and the leaves seem to change from green to brown sometime in November. The good news is I can still find pumpkin spice everything, and I get to enjoy a new level of football glory.
Why football? It’s a hard-hitting physical game. It’s a complex strategic battle. The long passes, the breakthrough runs, the defensive stops, and the field goals. Eleven men on the field for each team, executing their individual assignments to achieve a collective goal. One seemingly minor decision can have a significant impact on each play. A game that can be changed by a matter of inches. Oh, the possibilities!
The young men and women (yes, women are playing at the collegiate & semi-professional level!) playing college football are mastering their skills. They are taking what they learned through high school to a whole new level. Some are preparing for a career in professional football. Some are using their earned scholarship to make earning a college degree a possibility. And many others are simply enjoying the chance to play while attending school.
Another dimension to college football is the turnover. Most players are on a team for three to five years. Additionally, in our “what have you done for me lately” society, coaches are moving from job to job every few years. So while Alabama is a dominant force continually in championship contention, other teams have claimed the title in recent years as well. No one team can stay on top forever. We can talk to Nebraska, Michigan, USC, and many others about that.
Confession: I haven’t always been that interested in the NFL. I watched the Chicago Bears when I was younger because my dad was, and still is, a loyal fan. I remember watching the Super Bowl each year, but I was more interested in the commercials and halftime shows. My first year out of college and living on my own, I would put on a game when there was nothing else to do on a Sunday afternoon, but I didn’t really care. I didn’t have a particular team I supported. I became a New Orleans Saints fan almost by default as I was living in Louisiana, and their story of recovery from Hurricane Katrina was inspirational.
While the turnover isn’t as high as in college, it still occurs between trades, the draft, and retirements. It’s exciting to see how players progress from college to the pros. Some do better than anyone could predict (like Tom Brady) while others are never able to live up to their hype. Since it is the professional level, the players’ skill set is much greater, providing the opportunity for big impact plays.
The concept of fantasy football confused me when I first heard about it. Then a group from work decided to start an all female league and I had to learn quickly. For those that are not aware, here are the basics: you draft NFL players to form your team; each week you decide your starting lineup as you play against someone else in your league with the goal of scoring the most points; and you can trade or add/drop players throughout the season. Most people play for money, but you could play for pride as well.
Joining the league gave me a reason to watch the NFL and pay attention to specific players. It is now a common interest for me and my husband. Being in an all female league is the key, though. We have been doing this for eight years. Only half of us have participated for all eight years, but the excitement and interest still remains. Each year we take a break from being wives and moms to eat, drink, laugh, voice our opinions on players’ names and looks, and draft our teams. Then throughout the season, we get to smack talk, discuss the matchups, and criticize player performances. We bond over it and create lasting memories.
Football may not be for everyone, just like The Bachelor isn’t for everyone. I can tell you, though, that it is not just for men to enjoy. I encourage you to check it out through different aspects. Maybe NFL isn’t your thing, but you find yourself oddly intrigued by the college game. Ask questions and at least get to know the basics. There are still things I don’t understand about the intricacies of the game. You may find a new interest, or at the very least will be able to follow some conversation when football fans in your life talk about games and players. Game on, ladies!