Well, maybe not proud. Surprised, probably, but proud? That may be pushing it.
The reason? I’m in a fantasy football league. AND … not only am I in a fantasy football league, but I am currently in 3rd place (of 14 teams) and am the current points leader (rankings are based on win-loss records, not points accumulated).
Why would that surprise my mother, you ask?
Football was never really my schtick. I played basketball, volleyball and softball growing up, but football never really seemed to catch my interest – my mother used to joke (until not that long ago) that I likely didn’t know what a football was or how many points came with a touchdown.
Growing up in a one-television home – I don’t think I ever lived anywhere with more than one television until I got married – football season was the bane of my existence. In the off-season, Dad and I would watch movies after church on Sundays – I grew up with Clint Eastwood, John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, and Lee Marvin, as well as the Bowery Boys and old Little Rascals movies. When football season started, though, the parents took over the TV and watched whichever game was on (this was years before ESPN and definitely before NFL Gameday). They watched the pre-game, the game, the post-game, and then switched it over to the next game.
In high school, football games were a must-attend social event, but not for the game. I seldom knew who was winning until the game was over, and rarely – if ever – actually sat in the stands. Generally my friends and I would walk around the field, meet up with other friends and go behind the concession stand to smoke. In college it was largely the same thing, except I didn’t need to hide behind the concession stand to smoke, and I often did sit in the stands.
I thought my football days would end with the end of my college days, but then I met a boy who loved football and watched whatever games he could. He was an avid Chiefs fan – he had been since he was old enough to speak – and so I tolerated his Sunday indulgences. When we got engaged, I figured those indulgences would come to an end and he’d want to do nothing but be married to me and raise our children and play with them all the time, occasionally stopping to whitewash the picket fence that was going to go around the yard of our perfect, immaculate ranch home.
One night when we were having dinner with his parents the talk turned to football (it must have been football season) and I mentioned to my then-fiance’s mom that I agreed once we got married that my husband would be able to watch his Chiefs on Sundays, but that he should really spend the rest of the day with me.
His mom laughed.
What happened instead was I adopted an, “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” attitude and started watching football. And started liking football, and the Chiefs. We got season tickets to the Chiefs games even though we lived in west central Iowa – we’d pick two games to go to and then sell the rest. That was back in the early to mid-’90s, when the Chiefs had the likes of Derrick Thomas, Neal Smith, Christian Okoye, Tim Grunhard, Marcus Allen … the tickets were never hard to sell.
My love of football lasted longer than my marriage, and the ex got the tickets in the divorce. I remained a fan but my game-watching wasn’t as fervent as before. If it didn’t have to be on, sometimes it wasn’t. And since the kids and I had moved to eastern Iowa – at about the same time the Chiefs’ seasons started taking a nosedive – often the games weren’t even aired in this area.
I’ve come back to watching the last few seasons, and am ecstatic about the Chiefs’ season this year. My first year in a fantasy football league many of my players are Chiefs, so I’m even happier they’re doing well.
So there you go. Through the years I’ve done an about-face on my football habits.
And Mom – the football is the oblong brown ball with the white laces, and touchdowns score 6 points, plus one extra point for the kick or two if the players run it into the endzone. See? I can be taught.