Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Welcome to my world

Sports, sports, sports. My life really does revolve around sports. I mean, I have other stuff going on, I'm not a total stat nerd, but my livelihood does depend on how often I watch ESPN. My favorite sports is, and has always been, football. Unfortunatly, because I have boobs, I was never able to actually experience it first-hand.
So I wonder if I can ever really understand football, seeing as how I’ve never been able to play it.
Sure, I grew up around football: my dad was a Division III All-American quarterback, my younger brother was an All-State quarterback and safety, and is currently playing 1AA ball. But “The Man” wouldn’t let me buckle a chin strap or stand underneath the Friday night lights.
I have a very good couch-potato football background. Since I was little, Saturday afternoons in the fall were all about football. Penn State was the college team of choice in my household, so we all lived by the book of Joe Pa.
Since high school, Friday nights were for high school football games, and even though our team wasn’t any good during any of my wonder years, I still went to all of the games. Actually, saying they weren’t good is being nice. In fact, the team never won more than two games in a row until my senior year, when they won three, their only wins of the season. When they accomplished that feat, it was the only three games they won all year. We celebrated those three wins like they’d won the state Super Bowl. You take what you can get, I guess.
A couple of years ago I got my dream internship -I worked with the New England Patriots, and got to watch all of the home games from the sidelines. It was cool to be on the sidelines, but I wish I knew what it felt like to be wearing the pads and having all of those people scream for ME.
Anyway, the point is that I’ve watched a lot of football. I know what a blitz is, I know what the flat is, and I even know the difference between a cover-two and a cover-three. But I only know all these things from my dad telling me, and from watching. I’ve never stood on the field and seen the spread offense from behind. I’ve never felt the sting of getting pummeled by a 250 pound lineman, and never had to fight for life and limb on the bottom of a pile… some might consider this as a blessing, but still.
After his Thanksgiving football game against his rival high school in 2004, my brother was trying to explain the atmosphere to me. Eight thousand fans screaming when he scored a touchdown, and hundreds of fans rushing the field after they won. The closest I’ve ever come to this feeling was not on Thanksgiving, but the day after – charging into the local mall with 200 of my closest rivals as soon as the doors open.
We talk about what it would be like for him to play in college. One day he was talking about a former teammate of his, who is now a safety at Northwestern, who had played Michigan in Ann Arbor last season.
“Can you imagine that Jen? More than 100,000 fans screaming. I can’t believe how awesome that must be.” I could almost see him shaking his head over the phone.
No, I can’t imagine you jerk. That is one of the hard things about being a female in the sports world, I’ve been a part of teams, sure. But I don’t think anything else is like the camaraderie of a high school or college football team. I have watched plenty of games, and talked to plenty of athletes, but I will always be the spectator.
So I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I’ll never have the first-hand experience of playing football. But I have to say I have about as much second-hand experience as anyone, and have grown up and worked with men who have played at a high level.
Maybe I’ll never catch a pass or break up an interception at “The Big House” during a game, or even stand in the high school locker room after tough Friday night loss … but I have stood on the field as the Patriots beat the Colts in the AFC playoffs, and that’s something most football players can't say. So ha.

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