Ten things I learned about football today: A nerd’s perspective
So I’m a nerd of basically the most traditional caliber. An avid indoorsman, and without a doubt one of the least athletic people on Earth. It took years (and the advent of HDTV) for my sports nerd friends to even cultivate my interest in watching anything of the kind on TV. Once that happened though, I gravitated quickly towards football as my TV sport of choice. I’m not sure why, I guess the relatively short season makes it more exciting. With baseball, for example, you’re around a thousand games in before they really start to count. So anyway, my girlfriend took me to my first Browns game today. My first NFL game ever, in fact. Like any responsible journalist dropped into an alien culture for a day, I took some notes.
1. Leave super early. We’re about five miles from the stadium, give or take, and the line to get in basically started at our house. Lines to show your tickets, lines to get frisked, and lines to get to your seat.
2. If they’re handing out tiny American flags before the game, take one to avoid a scene. I declined and the guy basically reacted like I’d shown him a bomb vest. I promised earnestly that i could remember my country of origin without visual aids, and he finally relented. Dudes love America.
3. Football fans are more into football than anyone else is into anything. Well, America and football. The two are probably about even. I enjoy the game, but will never be that emotionally invested in anything that happens once a week.
4. Put the straightest male NFL fan you can find anywhere near a stadium, and he will just go supergay for the remainder of the day. Ditch the shirt, throw on five pounds of Mardi Gras beads, stick four American flags in your headband, and slap the ass of the guy in front of you anytime anyone does anything. Bonus points for having a field goal kicker’s name tattooed on your arm like you used to date him.
5. Stadium food is priced like it is the last food on Earth. $11.25 for the same soda/chips/hot dog combo the gas station sells for $2. I would have to have consumed all other survivors of my plane crash before that felt like a good plan.
6. On a similar note: Stadium beer, woah. $7.25-8 each, depending on where you got it. There were guys near us that assuredly spent in three hours what I spend on beer in a whole month. And I drink, like, a hundred beers a month. A situation with so many people and so many stairs is the last place I’d want to be drunk anyway though, so no loss there.
7. This might be city-specific, but watching football with Browns fans is like playing peek-a-boo with a baby. Doesn’t matter how many times the same thing happens, they’re surprised every time. Poor, poor Browns fans.
8. The guy in front of us was personally responsible for everything good the Browns did for the entirety of the game. Every first down was a new round of high-fives for everyone in a fifteen foot radius. I think he may have been part owner.
9. A simple mathematical equation: 6 minutes + rain = 47 minutes. Oh, fourth quarter.
And last but not least….
10. There is never an oar, two chainsaws, and some duct tape when you really need it. Getting home from the same place as 70,000 other people will be my own customized hell when I die. Walking eight city blocks to avoid the “crowded” train station and realizing the sea of people around you has still not thinned at all is a pretty surreal experience. When we finally got home, beers in hand (net savings for a six pack vs. stadium beers, $41.50), part of me expected the hallway of our apartment building to be crammed with shoulder-to-shoulder brown and orange.
All things considered though, I had a great time and will do this again the very next time I get a chance. There’s really nothing else like it, being there in person is pretty cool. Even if all the challenges and time-outs did make me long for commercials and a conveniently placed refrigerator, live football is totally the way to go. A++, would watch again.