ML Philpott: The Loneliness of Football Season

Being a non-fan in the land of Big Football has its challenges. Lucky for me, after this piece ran in my column, a friend sent me a link to Football 101 on I’m still confused, but I’m learning a thing or two. Horse collar! Pooch kick! Amiright?

Seriously, true fans – on behalf of everyone like me, I thank you for your tolerance. And I ask you experts: What tips do you have for helping the football-challenged get through a game?


The Loneliness of Football Season

I am afraid to say this out loud, so I’m whispering it to the Internet: I don’t like football.

Well, that came out wrong. I don’t mean I actively dislike football; I mean I fail to love football in the way that everyone around me does.

Where I live, everyone loves football, even the ladies. But not me. (I wish I did, so I could join in on the fun; but looking back, I realize there was probably never any hope. First of all, I come from a long line of nerds. We are not an athletic people. Second, I moved around a lot growing up, so I have no geographical/team allegiances. Third, I somehow managed to avoid going to a big football school my entire life.) I just never developed the football sense.

Being a non-football-fan in football country is a bummer sometimes. The upcoming game is the #1 topic of conversation at social gatherings in the fall… when social gatherings can even happen, that is. Trying to make plans with friends for fall weekends gets dicey, because a GAME COULD BE ON. Face-to-face human interactions are suddenly trumped by televised sports, which absolutely must be seen in real time. I have witnessed this exact conversation:

I’m not kidding. You can’t kid about football. Trust me on that. If you call someone’s fantasy football league their “imaginary football” league, they will not laugh. Even though if you think about it, it’s pretty funny that there’s a whole world of made-up football being played, fictionally, by nonexistent players who have the same names and stats of actual people over here in the universe known as reality.

There are lots of aspects of football season that I do like – wearing sweaters, carrying flasks, eating meat cooked in a parking lot. I also enjoy doing cheerleader impressions. (Ask me about my most requested cheer: “Wheels are for truckers, scams are for suckers, we think your team’s a bunch of…”) Unfortunately, there’s just so much of it I can’t relate to.

Anyway. I hate being left out, and I don’t want to stay home by myself while everyone else is having fun. So please, invite me over to watch the game. I’ll behave. In fact, I would be immensely grateful if you could help me behave even better.

How To Help a Non-Fan Enjoy a Football Game:

  • Show me where to sit. One time I sat on the wrong side of the bar. HO-LY shit. Bad move. Look, I’m not trying to express my loyalties one way or the other – I just don’t know which cheering section is “ours.” So point me in the right direction. The great news is, I totally don’t care whether I can see the TV, so you can give me the seat no one else wants.
  • Assign me some food to bring. In fact, put me on cocktail waitress duty for the game. I like assembling trays of snacks and walking around and refilling drinks, and that gives me an excuse to get up. See, I can be useful!
  • Shoot me a few signals. I don’t know the difference between good news and bad news; I only know the announcer is screaming. Is this a “YEAH!” moment or a “NOOO!” moment? I’ll do what you do.
  • Help me translate football minutes into real minutes. I know that when it says “2:43” left in the game, it’s not really two minutes and forty-three seconds. But I don’t really understand how long it is. Every minute in football time feels like an hour to me. So break it down in terms I can understand: “You have time to have two more beers.” Or: “The game will be over after you pick seven more threads out of the sofa cushion.” Or: “You can get in your car, go commit a crime on the empty streets, come back, and no one will know you were even gone, because there’s that much game still left.”
  • Give me your wifi password.
  • Do you have any magazines?

Gooooo, team!

– – –

ML Philpott is an Atlanta-based, award-winning writer and editor and the author of the humor column, I Miss You When I Blink. She roots for whoever you root for. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter: @wheniblink.