Sunday afternoon football.

19 Sep

Playing is one thing and watching, another.

The boys, my brothers and dad, are downstairs watching football, and though I’m two floors above them, in the attack “nook,” I can hear them hooting and hollering at the Buffalo Bills, who will probably lose, mind you. I have to admire them as fans. It’s hard to be fans of a team that loses all the time. I suspect no matter how bad the Bills get (and they’re getting pretty bad) they’ll never stop trying to cheer them to victory. That kind of loyalty is admirable.

I played flag football in college on an intramural team. It was fun. I don’t remember much of the rules of the game, only that I was to rush at the quarterback girl and grab her flags. Or, if someone broke loose from the pack and zinged down the field, I was to chase her and tear at her writhing, neon flaps. I became a decent flag-grabber and had a knack for ripping from the quarterback, because I was quick, and fearless (ha!).

One year we almost made it to the championship intramural showdown, but a sketchy thing happened, the details of which I cannot really remember, and we were disqualified, or something or another. I had school work to do and articles to write and everything else to worry about, so I never knew quite what happened, only that it was shady, or so I was told by the team captain.

I grasped during that time the idea of football. Even with flags, it could be painful. I got smacked and threw a few smacks myself. Girls can be ruthless. I emerged from the field not really seriously bloody or bruised but messy and muddy with other people who looked the same. Our hair flew in ungainly directions, and our cheeks were flushed red and splotchy from the chill, sometimes freezing air. As we walked together to the dining commons, we plotted our next victory, how we would squelch any designs the next team might have on us. We were indestructible. Or so we thought.

Haven’t played any football since then. For some time afterwards, I kind of understood what happened on the TV football, could make hazy comparisons between what I did and what they were doing. But it somehow seemed different. It held no fascination for me, as it does so many other people. I like to DO things. Even though I played soccer in high school, I’d never watch it on TV. Too boring. (OK, maybe the World Cup). The same with football. Playing it is one thing and watching, another.



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