I hated football. I mean, I hated it. With every fiber of my being, I detested it, loathed it. I wished sometimes that it would just go away. There was a time when my co-workers would bring up the Seahawks and my fingers would immediately go in my ears while I sang loudly, “La, la, la, la, la..”
My dad watched football when I was growing up, but it was his thing, and being the oldest of two girls with a mom who also didn’t watch football, I avoided it. I didn’t understand it. I didn’t want to understand it.
I married a man who loves football. And that was fine with me. As long as he left me out of it, we’d be fine. But I later learned that he didn’t really want to leave me out of it. He started asking me to watch certain plays during a game. “Watch the quarterback,” he’d say. But all I saw were a bunch of guys grouped up in the same uniform. How am I supposed to know who the quarterback is?
My hatred of football continued to grow. I didn’t want to be anywhere near a TV with a football game. It was too slow. It stopped and started too much. I didn’t get it. I didn’t want to get it.
There was a time when my husband thought enough of me to include me in a certain college football team’s game that he happens to be a super fan of. I went along with my husband and my boys, but I’ll be damned if I was actually going to watch football. I brought my beloved books with me. Yes, I brought books to a football game. And yes, I read them. I read a book while my husband’s team proceeded to play a game, scoring 72 points to nothing. I’d show all of them what I thought about football. I hated it so much. Little did I realize it then, but I was cementing a memory into my two boys’ brains that I now imagine them telling their future wives and their children.
“My mom hated football so much that she actually read a book during a huge game with people screaming everywhere.” That was nearly five years ago, and I laugh about it now, but I also see how tremendously selfish I was being back then. Of course life isn’t all about doing what I want to do all of the time. Being in a family means sometimes compromising and taking one for the team, so to speak, embracing the interests of your spouse and your children. Once I looked back and remembered how many musicals my husband had accompanied me to, something that probably would never be his number one choice, the tides began to change. I would never like football, but I would at least make an effort to be more pleasant about it for my husband’s and kids’ sake.
In September of 2012, I was doped up on cold medicine, the really good kind that in Washington you have to sign your life away for. We have a little bit of a meth problem here. It was Monday Night Football. The Seahawks were playing the Packers at CenturyLink Field. Russell Wilson threw the Hail Mary pass at the end of the game, Golden Tate caught it, scoring the game-winning touchdown. There was all kinds of controversy over that, and with my love of controversy combined with my cold meds, I promptly took a seat on my couch next to my husband and just watched. I was able to focus on what was going on. For the first time in my life I was understanding what I was seeing and hearing.
I had a revelation that night that all of my life, the difficulties I have had with focusing on things, having the attention span of a gnat, have translated into feelings of hatred toward the things that I cannot focus on and understand. It might also explain why I’ve always loved hockey, a game that is fast, the puck is always moving, and there is no time to have to focus on anything. Oh, and they fight. See my love of controversy above.
I never understood what “first down” meant. And it didn’t matter how many times someone explained it to me. I just couldn’t grasp it. You mean, they get a first down and now they have to get another first down? But they just got the first one. That’s why it’s called first. Hello? It seems like some people, especially men, are hard-wired to understand this stuff. I know my boys are. It’s like they were born knowing all of the calls that an official might make. How did you know that they were going to punt there? Why is it called a safety? I don’t get it. But the difference now is that I want to get it. And I’m learning.
A couple of years ago my youngest son played tackle football for one season. That helped me immensely in understanding what is going on out on the field. And I cared because I was watching my son. I wanted to understand this game he was playing. I bought “Football for Dummies.” I’m not kidding. Good read!
And then Richard Sherman made his way into my field of vision. The brash, smack-talking cornerback of the Seahawks got my attention when he said “You mad, bro?” to Tom Brady. He had made me laugh.
Before then football players lived inside their uniforms in the game. They came, played the game on the field, and left. They weren’t human. But getting a glimpse of a player’s personality grabbed me. I became a fan of Richard Sherman at that moment. I began paying attention during games just to see what he might do or say. And then I started to notice and get to know the other players. Marshawn Lynch, Russell Wilson, Kam Chancellor, Doug Baldwin, Michael Bennett, just to name a few, they all became known to me. I felt like I was getting to know these young kids. Because I am old enough now to call these guys kids.
I began cheering for the Seahawks. I became interested in the games. Win or lose, I was in. And it wasn’t because they were winning. It was because I had become interested in the people actually playing the game, like I was cheering for my own kids and their friends.
And here we are now on the brink of another Superbowl after winning last year’s. And there’s a term that the Seahawks haters – and perhaps lifelong Seahawks fans – like to use to describe a fan like me.
Bandwagon fan. You’ve heard it flung around, particularly in the comments section of any Seahawks article these days. Urban Dictionary defines it as follows: