Football has always been of the utmost importance in my household. Sundays were sacred game days, which meant making hearty homemade soup and gathering around the television. If you even dared to change the channel, you’d hear it from Mom. And if you didn’t change the channel, you’d still hear it from Mom. She and Dad would sit in the living room, loudly “coaching” whichever teams happened to be playing, while Dog #1 would try to jump on Mom’s lap, mistakenly believing she was in pain and in need of consolation.
The Super Bowl was a big deal in our house, almost more of a big deal than the other national holidays. Mom always said she didn’t like having big parties because she didn’t want to “chat with the women,” she just wanted to watch the game. Super Bowl meant trays, bowls, and dishes of barbeque wings, taquitos, chips and dip, and other miscellaneous heart-attack-inducing snacks. I’d sit around and wait for the commercials, not particularly interested in the game, and Sister’s attention couldn’t even be held for that long. We’d eat until we were stuffed, then wait and eat more. I’d cheer for the team Mom and Dad said they were going for, and the whole thing would end with a food-coma-induced nap.
Thanksgiving dinner has always been followed by a retreat into the living room to watch the game, and when we were younger, that was always followed up with a front-yard game of football. I could throw a spiral ball by the time I was 8. Dad and I would run mini plays in the front yard on weekends, and my PE teachers always said I threw better than the boys.
Teams were a big deal. We each had our own, and a healthy dose of trash-talking would ensue whenever one of our teams played another. I was a New York Jets fan from the age of about three, because I mistakenly thought they were the New York Jetsons, and who wouldn’t root for the Jetsons’ team? As I got older, I began to understand football, and while I remained a Jets fan, I was aware of the fact that they were unassociated with the cartoon.
Football wasn’t just a sport of choice in the house; it was part of who we were as a family. Mom was kidding-but-not-really when she told me and Sister that if our future significant other didn’t like football, he wasn’t going to fit in. Boyfriend, luckily enough, is an avid football fan, so Mom and Dad gave the stamp of approval, even though his team and Dad’s are fierce rivals.
Between Parents and Boyfriend, my life is often measured in units of time called weeks-until-the-playoffs, weeks-until-the-super-bowl, and weeks-until-it-starts-again. Being away from home hasn’t changed this – Boyfriend never fails to remind me how long we have until the draft, until Aaron Rodgers can get back on the field (I feel like I know the guy personally).
I had never really noticed how much football was a part of my life until I came to college. Many of my friends didn’t care much for the game, or had never watched. I myself enjoy watching football, but certainly not with the expertise or passion that Boyfriend or Parents do. When Super Bowl Sunday came, however, I couldn’t help but sit down and watch. It almost felt wrong to do anything else.
While I miss most football Sundays now, living halfway across the country and all, I think football will always be a small part of me. It’s how my family comes together; it’s where we find common ground. It’s part of how we relate to one another, and I have a feeling it will continue to be part of my life as long as the Green Bay Packers walk the face of the earth.