Saturday, November 17, 2007

I don't understand

This must be how atheists feel when they look at believers.

Football is pretty big around here. Like, bigger than any sport in any place I've ever lived (although Broncos fans in Colorado in the late 80's came close). Specifically, Ohio State football is pretty big, and apparently there was a significant game today -against Michigan, I think. And although this admission will probably lead to the recall of my Official Guy Card, I really don't get it.

Strike that last comment - I've seen more Ohio State shirts, facepaint, hats, etc on women than on men, so it's not just a guy thing. Whew, my Official Guy Card is safe.

Anyway, back to the topic. I've never understood the appeal of spectator sports. That's not an attempt to compliment myself on my highbrow tastes. I'm just admitting my bewilderment with the frenzy over a football team. The passion, the clothing and strange adornments, the chanting, the degree to which people identify with the team (and get their sense of identity from their attachment to the team - there are a lot of self-described "Buckeyes" around here), and the degree of satisfaction people get from watching them win (did they win? is the game still going? I don't know)... all of these things are beyond me. When the school bus dropped B off on Friday, all the kids were chanting Ohio State cheers, and we heard stories of playground chants of "Go Bucks! Michigan Sucks!" She's in 3rd grade, so that strikes me as a bit excessive.

It does look like a religion, doesn't it, even down to the chanting and the mystical beliefs? I suspect even adherents would agree. But if football is a religion, Ohio must be the football equivalent of the Bible Belt... and I'm definitely in the minority around here (and now I wait for the flood of comments from other fans, insisting that *their* area is the football equivalent of the Bible Belt).

Like I said, this must be how atheists feel, when they're surrounded by believers.


Gabe said...

Well, I'll be the first to comment I guess. You may already know that I'm a big college football fan. Here's why,

Growing up in a small town in eastern NM (which is akin to west Texas...think Friday Night Lights) football was pretty big. During the season, it was pretty much the only social entertainment. You went to the game, whether you cared about the game or not, and had fun socializing with other families and friends 'cause they almost all went. Of course Pro Football factored in too, but that was more a personal preference. But again, it was something that everybody seemed to have in common. I remember many crisp fall days playing touch football out in my front yard with my brother, sister, dad, and neighbors. It was oh so fun and, over the years, the sport became ingrained in you.

After college ( I didn't become a college fan until after college because my college had a stinky team and I had too much other stuff to do) I moved to Norman, Oklahoma. The next year they won the National Championship. Anyway, living in such a huge, storied college football town, it was almost impossible to avoid the infection. Attending several of the games that year and witnessing the spectacle and pageantry, I was sold. It makes a huge difference to attend an event like that. Cool, crisp fall mornings where you get to hang out with friends and cheer, and watch something so exiting; live, right there in front of your's really quite magical. And so you move on from that period in time and hope someday that you'll be as lucky as you were then to witness all the crazy awesomeness.

So that's why some people are so fanatical. Of course, I don't understand that same devotion to other sports because I just never found the magic in them. Only football carries that quality for me. And I'm content to only ever care about it that way.

Happy Fall-Festival-Eating Good Food-Watching Football-Thanksgiving!

Mark said...

Dan - clearly you weren't still stationed at Hanscom in October 2004 (or 2007). Go Sox!

dad said...

Hi Dan: for some reason, my response to your blog entry last night didn't get posted, so I'm doing it again. It is sort of like what Gabe and Mark both said: college football rivalry is at it's intense 'highest' in Ohio and Michigan and last sat was not just a rivalry game but a championship game for the Big Ten title (as happens many years there)... but as long term college football fan myself, I really don't get 'rialed up' that much except for AF football.... I feel an emotional involvement and investment and yet I realize it's just a game and entertainment.... for some folks, it' just like a religion and can be an 'extreme passion' and those kind of passions can sometimes get out of hand and seem farfetched.... thanks for your blog and your questions..... Dad