My dad has been a high school football coach for my entire life, and try as he did to get my two sisters and I into if not football than any sport where you can keep score, he failed. The three of us all became ballerinas. I never understood why he would get so heated every Sunday night while watching the game. I rarely went to any of his games, and if I did I was more likely hanging by the snack bar or complaining about organized athletics with my too cool for school friends. My father would beg me to show the slightest interest. “Your first word was touchdown!” he would yell. But I would always resist.
Let me take this moment to apologize to my dad. I get it now, Dad. Football is awesome.
Why did I suddenly in my 20s realize this? Two things: The Oregon Ducks and “Friday Night Lights.”
Always a huge fan of the state of Oregon (because who isn’t?), and always looking for an excuse to quack (not something real Ducks fans do apparently), I took a friend up on his invitation to the neighborhood Ducks bar for college football season last year. It was the first time I realized that 85% of football is just drinking and having a good time with your friends, who once you starting rooting for team is EVERY FAN OF THAT TEAM EVER. The haziness surrounding the allure of the sport was starting to clear.
Soon after, my television curiosity was piqued with the arrival of “Friday Night Lights” to Netflix. Not a viewer when it was actually on TV (because it was about football, boring), I thought maybe, just maybe, my journey on the road to football fandom would be bolstered by some fictional, dramatic depictions of the games similar to the ones my father so desperately wanted me to attend in my youth. I was right.
Suddenly, I needed to know all the rules just to understand what the characters on the show were talking about, and before I knew it, I was basically a pro. Sure, there are some inaccuracies, it being a television show and all; I’m almost certain that not every single high school football game is decided by some dramatic act in the last 5 seconds, and I’m willing to bet there are much fewer drug addictions, murders, and abortions on one team in a single season. But that show makes me excited to watch and talk about football.
So here’s to The Ducks, playing their first game of the season tomorrow, to “Friday Night Lights,” the last season of which I’ll be starting this weekend, and to my dad, who yelled, “Where was all this interest in football when I wanted you to have it?!” last time I saw him. Let’s play some football everybody.