Football: A Theological Perspective (A not-so-instant replay)
This is a rerun, a Monday Memory. Therefore, some of you have already read it. It's still funny. It's aged well. Enjoy
I spent the day with friends today and we watched football.
I hate football. I don’t understand football. Here’s what I know about football.
My history with football started in high school. I never missed a football game. I was there to watch the cheerleaders and smoke under the bleachers. I was there to go to the dance after the game. I was there to get out of the house. I was not there to watch football. I knew the object of the game was to carry the ball down the field to the goal place and that other people tried to knock the person with the ball down. Mud was part of the game. As was rain which caused the mud. But, from the bleachers, I could never find the ball. Never. Once in awhile, I would see some guy run down the field, chased by other guys, and I assumed he had the ball. Then he would end up in the mud and the cheerleaders would yell this:
“First in ten, do it again, we like it.” Huh? But they were cute when they did it and I was there, after all, to watch them. Did I mention I’m a lesbian? So when the cheerleaders said it, so did I.
(At basketball games they said “Get it on the rebound, rebound, rebound” and I knew what that meant. But “First in ten, do it again, we like it?” WTF were they talking about?)
Aside: I graduated from high school in 1969. When I was twelve I went through confirmation classes in the Episcopal Church. I knew that the fact I would graduate in 1969 was funny for some reason but had no idea why. What I learned in confirmation classes was this:
Parts of the prayer book did not really exist (The 39 articles. Have you ever seen them? I thought not.)
The Holy Spirit would descend on me when I was confirmed.
After that I could eat the body and blood of Christ which was actually fish food and wine.
So I get confirmed. Bishop Carmen had some sort of palsy and when he laid his hands on your head it felt like you were being attacked by a blender on high. Your whole head shook and then you were confirmed. For a long time I thought the Holy Spirit was part kitchen appliance, part bird. Then, after he finished shaking all our heads, he gave us a verse. The point of the verse was this: When we saw him, we were to say the verse and he would know which year he had confirmed us. (Stay with me. We will get back to football after this brief half-time show).
Now, remember this. We are twelve, so sixth grade. The girls had brand new breasts, the boys were still short, we were all, basically, morons. We already know there is something funny about the fact that we will graduate in 1969 but we have no idea what and our older siblings and friends refuse to tell us. And Bishop Carmen gives us this verse: “Whatsoever he saith unto you do it.” But, he wants to make it easy and tells us we just have to come up to him and say, “Do it, Bishop Carmen.” Although we are not quite sure about the mechanics, we do know that “Do it” means sex. We also suspect that 1969 has something to do with sex and we find this quite funny. We spend the next several years looking for excuses to tell the bishop “Do it, Bishop Carmen.” Hell, we were twelve, we amused easily, especially if it had to do with sex, which we only understood in a clinical 5th grade health class sort of way.
Now back to football. By the time I was in high school I had a better idea about the whole concept of “doing it” and I even had an inkling about what made 1969 so dang funny. And there are the cheerleaders, for no reason I can understand, yelling “First in ten, do it again, we like it.” One of them is my next door neighbor whom I have had a crush on for years. She was four years older than I was, a senior when I was freshman, and beautiful. She moved like the dancer she was (she went pro with SF Ballet) and I have always had a thing for dancers. So, between smoking under the bleachers and watching the cheerleaders, I’m pretty sure this particular cheer has something to do with sex. That whole “First in ten” thing is a freaking mystery and remains so for my entire high school career. But I was sort of getting behind the whole sex idea and if it involved the cheerleader next door, I was all for it. So I was pretty sincere on the whole “Do it again, we like it” although at that point I had no idea if I would like it or not.
Fast forward. I never went to a single game in college because I was too busy being a hippy and doing that whole sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll thing. Yes, I did it. And I liked it. After college, I went to a New Year’s Day party some college friends still hold today, some 30 years later, and we played an annual game of flag football. However, since these were mixed teams, flag meant the guys tackled the girls into the mud. Sort of as if we were still in sixth grade only in our late 20s. Morons. Some guy on my team tackled me. You read that right. ON MY TEAM. And my glasses broke so I had to sit out. I am blind without them. That is the only time I ever played football, I was tackled in the first 30 seconds, and couldn’t even see the rest of the game. If I remember correctly, there was a bong involved.
Another fast forward. I meet the beloved Jenny who actually likes football. I make it clear that I will not watch football with her and she decides that she will watch only the Super Bowl. Or maybe the Rose Bowl. I get those two mixed up. So once a year she goes butch on me, watches a football game complete with yelling at the TV which I patiently explain cannot hear her, and I go in the office and do something else. For about 13 years this works just fine. Then our kid, the Divine Miss M, decides to be a cheerleader. She makes the squad freshman year and by senior year is star of the show and team captain. Suddenly I have to go to football games. All the time.
I no longer smoke, you can’t get under the bleachers anyway, and I’m still there to watch the cheerleaders. There is no bong involved although I wish there was. But Jenny is determined to teach me to like football. So start the endless repetition of the FACTS OF FOOTBALL, listed below:
There are two teams.
The home team wears white. This means that if we are at home, we’re the white guys, if we are not at home we are the blue guys. Except Maggie’s school always wears blue so one of my certainties flies right out the window.
Each team has two lineups, one for offense, one for defense (finally I know why there are always so many guys just standing around)
On the far side of the field, the one I can’t see because I am blind, are two, or maybe three or four, guys with orange numbers on sticks.
The number guys move around depending on where the ball lands and they flip the numbers to figure out many yards the ball went. This has something to do with the white lines on the ground if it isn’t too muddy.
There is still something called “First in ten” and I still don’t know what it means. Or maybe it’s “First and ten.” Either way it’s meaningless to me. Jenny explains it every game. And every game I forget. Did I mention the brain injury?
The game still consists of about 20 minutes of action and three and a half hours of standing around.
Every week she explains this (or something close to it) and every week I have no clue. (You have to know that one of my daughters played soccer year round for almost two decades and I never understood offsides either) (and, I find out, football has offsides as well but I have no idea what that means either) (However, I’m pretty sure that football offsides and soccer offsides are not the same but it doesn’t matter because I don’t understand either.) I watch the cheerleaders.
(Note: I am no longer interested in the cheerleaders in that way because they are now young enough to be my children. In fact, the one they keep tossing in the air is my child. And that would be, well, icky. Not too mention illegal. And I am married (although apparently that is not legal either since I’m married to a butch-wannabee named Jenny.) And, in case you forgot, my name is Susan which means we are both women. That whole lesbian thing. And don’t ask me which one of us the guy, you moron. The whole point: NO GUY!)
However, today I learned something about the mysteries of football. One problem with live football is that they run, they fall down, the stick guys move, and everybody huddles, slaps asses, and then they stand around until they do it again. Like I said, little action, lots of standing around. But in televised football they can fill the “standing around” time with instant replays. Endless instant replays. Endless instant replays of instant replays. So you can’t even figure out where the game ends and the replays begin. Makes it all so much clearer to me.