How Football is Like Shopping

Are you tired of how some girlfriends perceive you as ‘one of the boys’ when you are really just a girl who loves football? Do you notice that look you get from them like you’re a freak of nature when you enthusiastically talk about the start of the football season? Or that glazed look as you try to explain the difference between offensive pass interference and an illegal block? I feel you. I figured if I wanted to keep my friends in the fall, while still watching football, I needed to explain the sport in a way that might appeal to them. So here is a simple football tutorial told with terminology that all women, no matter her culture, age, or geographical location should understand – shopping!  Perhaps explaining the game in a universal language will get that naysaying friend to buy into football after all.


Have you ever been to one of those ‘Grand Opening’ Sales? Usually, all the best pieces are on display. Some of the items are always ‘unique’, aren’t they? Ma’am, we only have ONE piece. That’s why you have to pay the premium. This could be your ‘investment piece’. In football, that investment piece is often the quarterback. (Unfortunately, the position name is not indicative of any discounts).

He is the captain of the offensive squad. The rock star! Have you seen that Calvin Klein Ad with the hottie David Beckham? Ok, that’s a different kind of football but now that I have your attention Google Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Tony Romo, Brady Quinn…now you’re kicking yourself for not watching, eh.  😉 Word of caution: Being handsome is NOT a requirement to be a quarterback, but 9 out of 10 of these guys are definitely easy on the eyes.

Salary Cap:

So acquiring your quarterback took quite a chunk out of your budget. No need to worry, you can buy things on layaway. All you have to do is put down some money (also known as guaranteed salary) but then the rest depends on how the item lives up to your expectations, so while you said you would pay $100 for it, you can really just put down $50 right now and pay $5 every year as an installment.  But if in a couple of years, your quarterback starts fraying, just put him on eBay for $75! So you pick and choose and get whatever you can within your budget. The store is just opening, so you could always come back if you found that extra $100 note in your laundered jean pocket.

Rest of the roster:

So the question still remains, who are all the other guys on the field and why do they run around like they do? If the quarterback was your quintessential black dress, think of the offensive linesmen as a pair of your favorite Uggs. Slightly over-sized, but if you buy the original they do a great job of keeping your feet warm while still looking stylish. Now unfortunately if you can’t afford the real deal, the knock-offs will do you about as much good as your bunny-shaped bathroom slippers. (No one ever did well in the playoffs with bunny slippers!) These big guys protect the quarterback while he tries to throw the ball to one of those other guys on his team running at various parts of the field. (We will come back to them).  They are like the plus size models at a fashion show. They walk the ramp first, leaving a glimpse of your showstopper for the very end. (But not too much of a glimpse.)

The wide receivers and tight ends are like that multi-functional bra you can wear seven different ways (genius invention!). Depending on whether you are wearing a halter, one-shoulder, strapless dress you can use the same bra. It has one basic function, but versatile enough to wear with any black dress.

For example, wide receivers catch the ball, run a million different directions across the field and if you’re lucky, will also block. Tight Ends are also hybrid players who receive and block whenever needed.

Next come those toasty running backs. If you have ever been to San Francisco or are familiar with Mark Twain quotes, you know how chilly the summers in the city by the Bay can get. So while you are roaming around in the tank top all day, you usually need that scarf and/or light cardigan later in the evening.  It can change your look dramatically, but mostly serves to keep you warm. Running backs often receive handoffs from the quarterbacks and run for short distances, to grease the wheels for a bigger passing play.  Although some rushers are well beyond warmers, gaining huge chunks of yardage at a time. (See: Adrian Peterson, Trent Richardson, Jamaal Charles.)

That leaves us with ‘special teams’. Who are these guys? Being Indian (the spicy curry type, not the Native-American type), I occasionally like to dress up in a 9-yard sari for a festive occasion. The special teams are much like this sari. They are an undervalued piece, a real gamechanger from time to time.

But that’s just one side of the ball.  Then there’s the defense.

For simplicity sake, think of the defense as kind of looking in the mirror, albeit a slightly distorted one; the defense is a mirror image of the offense, sans the quarterback. Their main goal is to stop the offense from making it to the end zone. Every one of us has woken up some mornings to look in the mirror and said  ‘Holy Crap, I look like shit!’, haven’t we? Then you fix yourself up and look again. That’s pretty much how the game is played. The offense and defense pay close attention to how the other team is lined up and make adjustments accordingly.

Try this tactic of explanation on your football deficient friends and let me know how it goes. And watch this space for more nuggets from the girl who loves the game as much as she loves her mani/pedi.

Noopur Bakshi is a freelance writer and project manager for a global software brand.  A Bay Area resident, the 49ers are her favorite team, but she is also a huge Manning family fan.