The first Sunday of the NFL season is this weekend and I’m actually excited about it. I grew up with my dad relegated to our basement on Sundays where he’d cheer on his favorite team, the St. Louis Rams. He’d occasionally scream at the TV or let out a big “YES!!!” that my mom and I would hear upstairs. I never understood his passion for the team and I although I may have once or twice tried to sit with him to learn what was going on, I never could.
My husband is also a diehard fan, but because we started dating in April, I didn’t understand his obsession with his team, the Buffalo Bills, until the fall.
The first time I witnessed his devotion to football firsthand started out like any other Sunday. It was the end of summer and we went for a bike ride that morning. When we got back and RJ showered, he came into the living room with his Buffalo Bills jersey on and a Bills baseball cap. He seemed like a little boy about to go to a sports game. I thought it was kind of cute at first, but quickly got annoyed. He parked himself on the couch, eyes glued to the screen. During commercials or a slow play, instead of chatting with me, he scrolled through his cell phone to check on his fantasy football team, a whole other group of players he was personally invested in, or to text with friends about how the game was going.
When I asked him questions, which I had a lot of, my usually attentive boyfriend was so focused he wouldn’t even respond. Worst of all was when he would respond to a question that I had asked a full five minutes earlier, which meant he’d heard me but chose to wait until nothing important was going on on the field before answering.
Sundays continued to be a contentious day for us for a while and we mostly time did our own things that day. It wasn’t until we got engaged and moved in together that I started to love Sunday football. Our new cable package included NFL RedZone, a channel that only shows the most exciting parts of the game--when a team is about to score a touchdown. Instead of flipping back and forth from the TK different games on at a give time on Sunday, this one channel goes from game to game while an announcer gives you highlights. I’d occasionally sit down and watch a little with RJ and because only the key moments of the games were being shown, I started to understand the importance of a touchdown, enjoyed watching the players ridiculous dances when they scored, and words like "sacks," "fumbles," and "interception" finally started to make sense.
Now we’re married with an almost-one-year-old son. On my son’s first football Sunday last year, he was four days old. My husband had him dressed in a Buffalo Bills onesie and was taking pictures of him sleeping in his baby swing. I knew he wanted to capture their first football moment together and was envisioning all the others they’d have one day.
Our son still won’t understand football this year, but I’ve learned to love this season. Here’s why:
Football can be a once-per-week event. As opposed to baseball, which is on nearly every day from April through October. Football can become a special occasion on Sundays. (OK, it’s on Thursday nights and Monday too, but if you just watch a little bit on the weekend, your husband will be impressed.)
Your man will be an efficiency machine before kickoff. The games start at 1 pm on the East Coast, which means you have all morning to do family stuff together or for him to crank through his “honey do” list. Nothing makes a football-loving hubby more productive than an impending football game.
It’s an excuse to drink alcohol. (Like you needed one.) Football is meant to be enjoyed with a cold beer but if that’s not your thing a glass of wine or margarita works just as well.
When your husband’s team wins, he’s really excited, if you know what I mean. Remember that episode of Sex and The City, where Samantha is dating a hardcore sports fan? She winds up getting into baseball because every time his team wins, she gets lucky and when they lose she’s in a sexual dry spell. Now, it’s not nearly that extreme with me and my husband, but when his underdog team, the Buffalo Bills, pulls off a win or a great play, he throws his arms around me and gives me a big kiss.
He’ll appreciate you taking an interest. It’s fun to share something together. It also earns you some credit to do things together that you enjoy. When you’re debating over a restaurant for date night or you want him to take the kids to a pumpkin patch for some fall family photos, you can remind your spouse that you take time to do what he likes (watching football), so it’s his turn to do what you want to.
It’s an excuse to get out of the house. Even if you’re on a tight budget and don’t make going out a priority, most men will find a way to hit up a sports bar to watch the game once in a while. Many bars have Sunday specials so it doesn’t have to be expensive and it’s an opportunity for someone (the waitress) to wait on you for a change. If you weren’t into watching the game already, the energy in a sports bar where most people are rooting for the same team is invigorating and might convert you to become a fan.
It teaches kids about success and failure. Even the best players have off days and lose. Sometimes a player whose name nobody knows saves the day. No matter what happens everyone shows up next week and plays again.
It’s something you can do as a family. In my husband’s extended family, watching the games is something the children and adults do together. They all don their favorite team’s jersey and huddle around the flat screen. Parking in front of the TV as a family gets a bad rap, but during a live game there’s lots of time to chat with your kids, high-five during great plays, or gently tease each other if you’re rooting for opposing teams. The children love it and even if you’re not really into the game, you’ll be into spending time with them and creating memories.
It’s something Dad can do with the kids. If you’re really not into spending Sunday in a jersey and eating guacamole, then let the little ones watch the game with your spouse while you do something you want to. Sunday can be your day for “me time:” Go get a mani/pedi, the haircut you’re overdue for, or just lock yourself in the bedroom and relax—and thank god for Sunday football.