Living in an icy midwestern state with a professional football team of some reputation and note requires certain survival skills for those rare humans who just can’t figure out what IS the big deal.
Here, then, is ThreadingWater’s Idiot Savant Guide to surviving the office-gym-grocery store-mailman-stranger encounter with rabid fans of the home team without looking like you are the raving maniac.
- If you can’t say something nice about a grown-up man or woman dressed like a ten year old child in a team jersey, don’t say anything at all.
- If asked why you are not wearing the team colors (which in my case happen to be a hideous combination of kelly green and sunflower yellow) DO NOT launch into a discourse on the merits of color saturation or hue as in, “Well, my pants today are sort of a muted olive with undertones of wheat grass, so I really am wearing the team colors.” Trust me on this. It’s easier to say you dressed in the dark and then murmur something that sounds like an apology. Also, stay clear of jersey-clad adults with duct tape. Seriously.
- Plan ahead. Know what time the big game will be on television, approximately what time the game will end and make sure you are not behind the wheel of a car immediately beforehand or afterwards. If I need to explain why, you’re probably beyond my help.
- If you MUST watch the game, or be in the same room with game fans, there’s a whole separate list of rules that apply.
- Sit quietly in some obscure corner of the room where there is no danger that the slightest movement will block a fan’s view of the television. Obvious, I know, but of high importance.
- Occasionally look up from your knitting or your book and feign interest with a statement that blends innocuous banter with real knowledge of the underpinnings of the game: “This could be a big ‘down’ for them,” or, (this one almost always works when you notice everyone in the room cheering,) “Wow. Great catch!”
- Do not ask a fan to explain strategy or a ref’s call. Did I lose you? I’ve been told there really is strategy in football. It’s not just bashing heads helmet to helmet until someone manages to stay upright long enough to move the ball into the endzone. Also, “ref” is short for “referee,” – the guy dressed in natty black and white stripes with a whistle and tai chi moves. You may think you would be earning points with fans by asking them about the finer points of the game – but, no. These types of questions are best asked at the beginning of the season and not during some kind of really BIG game when no one – I repeat, NO ONE – will be interested in diverting their attention from the television to explain anything to the novice fan.
- During intermissions – these are officially called “time outs on the field,” or “half-time,” – feel free to add a humorous anecdote about some over-the-top fan activity you read about in the local paper, or experienced yourself in the days leading up to the BIG GAME. For example, grocery stores and floral shops selling bouquets in the team colors, or a check-out clerk that had her nails done with the team logo on each finger. If you have to, make something up. Like I said, preparation is everything.
Finally, despair not. Even if your state’s team manages to win this weekend and go on to the Super Bowl, the season will eventually end.
Sometime around May, I think.