It is difficult to mark the passing from summer into fall, even in my land of threes, without noting the glorious return of our real national pastime: football. What has for the past six months been my passing, ancillary and utterly marginal interest in sports has now turned into a ravenous information, betting and televised game-play hungry beast that no one dares leave unsatiated. The American obsession with this weekly symphony of violence is well-documented and ever-growing, but not truly understood. I, for one, believe that as our society has become more and more gentrified (i.e. wussified) our need for vicarious blood-lust has grown. You know, how every kid in youth sports gets a trophy, how you have to wear a helmet to do anything more dangerous than walk down the street, and how you haven’t seen a public spanking in ten years, but see a kid that deserves one a dozen times a day? So, while we suffer through weeks where no one hits anyone (no matter how much they need it) and all just grin and bear it, we wait for the weekend, when we will watch armored warriors battle over inches and yards. It’s also no secret that the fairer sex is about as interested in this annual revival as their hairy-knuckled counterparts are in Sex & the City, Cosmo or anything Danielle Steele has ever written. But, while there is never a good reason for a man to watch Lifetime television, here are three reasons ladies should tune into a little pigskin:
1. Quality Time. It’s not easy being a man these days. The modern day man is about as useful to a woman as a jock strap (and only slightly more comfortable). Ladies can now do most of the things we used to be able to do for them, for themselves. The opening of pickle jars, the fixing of busted items around the house and even the lifting of heavy things can now be accomplished by even the daintiest of females (with the help of a little technology). Academic arenas once the exclusive purview of men: law, engineering, mathematics, etc., now have as many or more female students and scholars than their male peers. And while all of this sounds fantastic, it robs men of the one thing they want most in a relationship (well, aside from seeing women naked), and that’s to feel needed. I’m not sure when or how I learned as much about football as I know, but I know I’m not alone. You can put any two guys together from vastly different walks of life, educational backgrounds, or professions and we will be able to speak fluently in football - a language that most women think sounds like a cross between throat singing and a really long dirty joke. Watching football with you (as opposed to simply near you) will give us the rare and wonderful opportunity to actually explain something to you and know what the hell we’re talking about. Besides, we’re much less likely to screw that up than trying to actually repair any of your appliances.
2. The Zen of Hitting. Let’s be honest, you ladies have got a little more violence in you than you’d like to admit. Sure, it’s been socialized out of your since you were old enough to talk (sugar and spice and all things nice, right?). But you know there plenty of moments in your day when you just want to grab a bitch by the hair and throw her to the ground (you know what I’m talkin' 'bout Elizabeth Lambert) And since you’re not playing in a college soccer game anytime soon, what is your outlet for this supposed to be? Rachel Ray reruns? Kate Gosselin updates in People magazine? Lifetime Original movies? C’mon. That’s going to end in more frustration and disappointment than your prom night. But, it’s also not a solid idea for you (or your criminal record) to actually go out and start hitting people, either. So, while it’s certainly not the same as personally laying someone out, watching 275 pounds of muscle and pissed off lay the wood to some mouthy, pretty-boy receiver is sure going to do a whole more for your inner ass-kicker than watching Merideth Baxer-Birney blubber through another contrived mother-daughter reunion. Trust me, you don’t have know or like a whole lot more than just plain hittin‘ to just plain enjoy football.
3. Dance, Dance Revolution. You girls probably think it would be a whole lot easier to getyou to watch football than it would be for you to get us to go dancing with you. But as it turns out, you’re wrong. You’ve just been looking in the wrong place. In fact, joining your main squeeze for a Saturday or Sunday of football will not only afford you the opportunity to finally see him dance, but he’ll also actually sit and watch other people dancing with you. Sure, it’s not Dancing With the Stars, but watching that celebri-smut is only rotting your brain anyways. It turns out that we just need a good reason to dance, and while anniversaries, receptions and nice evenings out don’t always get it done, scoring a touchdown, making a monster tackle, winning the big game (or watching your favorite team do any/all of the above) is usually just the ticket. Of course, the dancing that ensues is usually somewhere between seizure and falling down, but at least you won’t have to bother with getting us to lessons. We already know just what to do. And so you know, we’re even more likely to cut a rug if our friends are around - especially if they’re rooting for the other team. There‘s just nothing quite like the “your team sucks” dance. It usually even comes with a song.
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It was all that I could do to not include “because it’s awesome” on this list. Because, in fairness, when I sat down to think about why anyone should watch football, that was the first 10 or so reasons that came to mind. In a world where the stories peddled to us are ever-more simple-minded, patronizing and contrived, sports offers a measure of unpredictability that not even M. Night Shyamalan can produce on his best day (which I’m pretty sure was sometime in 1999). And no sport offer higher stakes and higher drama than football. While the other major pro sports offer 80 plus games (and baseball gives us 162), football only has 16 - with installments just once a week, like an old-time serial western. Each tilt, in its massive stadiums, top-to-bottom coverage and ravenous fans, feels epic, and its championship, the venerable Super Bowl, annually breaks its own record as the most watched sporting event of all time. So, ladies, why not give it a go? Trust me, it’s the sort of gesture that won’t go unnoticed, and may actually get you someone to hold your hand and pass the tissues next time through P.S. I Love You.