Football and Family: A Reflection

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.

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7 thoughts on “Football and Family: A Reflection

  1. What an interesting account. It is amazing how football is so ingrained in the American psyche, whether it be for the Super Bowl or just the mystique of the game.

    I grew up, and remain, a Nebraska Cornhuskers fan. Having lived in Iowa and Nebraska for the majority of my life, I never developed a following for any NFL teams. College sports are where it is at!

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    • It really is an interesting phenomenon! Those Cornhuskers fans are devoted. My boyfriend has some family out in Nebraska and they are super into it. I’d probably be more into college ball if my college’s team actually had some game. 🙂

      -Taylor

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  2. It’s fascinating to hear the different ways families come to together and the different traditions that are built up over time. Our family wasn’t really sports orientated but politics was our game – we’d sit and watch the news and from the youngest age I can remember fierce debate over Christmas dinners and holiday get together’s. It’s something that you take with you in either a small or a big way but it is always part of you those early traditions and family moments.

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    • It’s very true! My best friend’s family bonded over movies, and so you couldn’t have a conversation with the family without someone quoting one of their favorites. It seems like a random thing but it was one of the things that really brought their family together, and that influence has stuck with her. Families build very interesting traditions. We’ve started one in my family of giving Hallmark cards that are weirdly inappropriate for the occasion – my sister received a birthday card that was addressed to “My favorite grandpa.” While no one else probably gets the humor, it’s become a source of laughs in our family.

      Thank you for reading!

      -Taylor

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  3. I grew up in Wisconsin. If you’re not a Packers fan in Wisconsin, you’d better keep your mouth shut or watch your back.
    Personally, I’m not really a football fan at all. My dad watches the games and I enjoy watching them every once in a while, but nobody in our family yells at the tv.
    My office is a completely different story. Although we’re a 24/7 operation, during Packer season (yes, it’s Packer season and not football season) we basically shut down for a full day every week to accommodate the game schedule. Nobody is denied time off work to watch the game. It’s really odd.

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    • The Packers fan base is amazingly devoted. I think they say that it is the largest fan base for an NFL team in the nation. I can only imagine how crazy it gets in Wisconsin! My boyfriend as I said is a Packers fan and I know even from him I sense that same feeling of fervent fanhood. I can only imagine how intense it gets in their home state. I’ve never seen a sport affect daily life in such profound ways like that. Interesting!

      -Taylor

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