Sunday marked the start of a new year. It wasn’t rung in at midnight with champagne, but rather by a 10 a.m. coffee at home, or bloody mary for those who ventured to the nearest sports bar. Ladies and gentlemen, football is back.
However, after a lifetime of watching season after season of the greatest sport ever to grace the face of the planet (don’t argue with that, just move on, and keep on reading), more than a few things have become apparent.
True football fans change during the season. Morals will become vague, beers will become salted with tears and the non-religious will be in full observance of a Sunday Sabbath.
In preparation, here is a public service announcement about the side effects of football fandom. It’s nothing to be proud of, but you know, football.
1) You will have a hefty bill come Valentines Day.
It’s a well-known fact that the amount Americans spend on their February 14th festivities is ridiculous. What people don’t know is that the reason for this is football. While most people attribute it to corporatization, it’s really about making up for lost time.
Football season ends the first weekend of February. Suddenly fans realize that they’ve only seen brief glimpses of their significant other through a haze of stats and depth charts for the last five months. That lack of attention did not go unnoticed to them. Valentines, though, offers the perfect chance to get back in their good graces.
2) You will become an addict.
As a former smoker, I know how hard it is to overcome nicotine addiction. That being said, football is a harder addiction for me, and other extreme football fans, to break.
You binge on it on Sunday, putting in a nine-hour shift watching any game you can get your hands on. In a word, it’s glorious. Monday, after a long day of work, you get to come home to a game, satisfying your craving.
But, by Wednesday, you’re fiending for any sort of football you can get your hands on (up to and including a 1983 preseason game between the Cleveland Browns and Los Angles Rams on ESPN Classic). Sure Thursday night games will start a few weeks into the season, but you have to live for the now.
By Friday you’ll take a two-hand touch game between the kids at the local park. Saturday brings some release with college football, but just before you crack, Sunday rolls back around again.
3) You will gain a working knowledge of an obscure Indonesian religion.
Superstition goes with sports like Sarah Palin goes with politics: you don’t know why they’re around, you can’t logically explain them, but they’re a good source of comedy.
Even the most skeptical of football fans will develop one or two practices, ranging from never washing your jersey after a win, to doing a Native American rain dance while eating scolding hot Top Ramen. Anything that worked once in high school to turn the odds in your teams favor is fair game.
4) You will feel closer to a second-string running back than you do members of your extended family.
This one goes for anyone who plays fantasy football. The game, which admittedly is just a slightly more socially acceptable version of role-playing games that “nerds” have been made fun of for since the beginning of time, distorts your world view.
Once you’re engaged with it, you’ll passionately be watching the Buffalo Bills face-off against the Jacksonville Jaguars, yelling at the television because a wide receiver no one has ever heard of dropped a pass in the endzone. Indeed, if a no-name player performs for you, you may have an ongoing romance with them in your mind without ever meeting them. I’m looking at you 2013’s Josh McCown.
5) You will get your heartbroken 97 percent of the time.
All things being equal, since there are 32 NFL teams, the chances of your team winning the Superbowl is 3.125 percent. Unless you’re lucky enough to be raised as a fan of an elite team, or more probable, a bandwagon fan, objectively hoping your team wins a championship is not worth the emotional investment.
But nevertheless, like your first heartbreak that you never quite got over, faithful fans return year after year for another round of probable disappointment chanting the mantra, this could be our year. My hearts go out to you Detroit Lions fans.