Thursday, August 19, 2010

How to be a Football Fan

As summer winds down and fall gears up, it is time for a short primer on FAN-aticism!

There are any number of programs, coaches, camps, and playbooks existing for the sole purpose of teaching athletes to become football players. There are not, however, so many aides for football fans. The requirements to develop one’s football fan-ness, I have observed, are myriad and often complicated. One might argue that a football fan exercises more discipline and talent than does the average football player. Let us examine.

In order to become a fan, one must have something to adore. Thus, a football fan must first adopt a team for which he will pledge undying devotion. Pick any team – Little League, High School, NCAA, or NFL. It matters not what team, rather the level of devotion is key.

Learn the game – or not! Remember the level of devotion is key, not one’s ability to understand the game. This will become clear as further instructions are revealed.

Adopt team colors as your favorite wardrobe guide. Purple and green, brown and gold, or blue and orange are lovely combinations. Neither fit nor style matters much. It’s all about the color scheme.

Take the color scheme to a new level and purchase team colored Mardi Gras beads and earrings. These are worn by male fans as well as female fans. One might consider painting a paw print or mascot head on the right side of his face. Diving full into the spirit of fan-ship, he may also ad his favorite player’s jersey number on the left side of his face. Better yet, paint the whole face! Half purple and half green works well, or one might opt for the simpler yet just as effective entire face blue effect.

Spend a bunch of money! Team jerseys and caps, stadium blankets with team logos embroidered on them, license plate holders indicating for whom the driver has pledged his loyalty, coffee mugs, oversized foam fingers displaying the team’s superiority, and logo emblazoned golf shirts are excellent avenues for which to dispose of one’s personal funds. Buy concessions! Spend all of one’s weekly food allowance on concessions! Three dollar bottled water, five dollar hot dogs, and four dollar boxes of candy present a rapid drain on one’s cash flow, not to mention the five dollar hamburger with petrified bun!

Track the team stats. One needn’t understand the game to have access to data containing team and individual numbers that, when rattled off with the appropriate inflection, indicate one’s devotion and intelligence. Bigger numbers translate to more success. Right? Unless, of course, one truly does understand the game and those numbers are in the Interceptions, Penalties, or Turnovers columns. One might also begin referring to players by their first names, as if he knows them personally.

Throw a tailgate party – even if you have no tailgate! A folding table in the family room will do if one does not have access to a stadium parking spot and season tickets. Although the location of the tailgate party is not pertinent, the consumption of high fat/low nutritional value foods is imperative! Bratwurst, chili dogs, bar-b-cue ribs, nachos, fried potatoes, and cheese dip are recommended. These foods are best enhanced if the chef is sporting a team jersey that is small enough to allow his lower abdomen to be viewed peeking between the jersey and his belt.

Rearrange schedules to accommodate ballgames. A novice can accomplish this by simply rearranging conflicting dinner dates and social engagements. However, the seasoned fan will postpone or skip important business meetings and medical appointments. Social engagements do not enter into the equation as he has no social life unrelated to football.

Attend the ballgame in the stadium wearing headphones tuned to one’s favorite radio announcer. This allows for audio/visual overload. Neither a play nor a commentary shall be missed!

Yell at the referees. Call them by name – or by some other name such as Stripes, Zebra, or You *&^(#@(! Complain when they make a bad call. Offer to do the job for them. Offer them your glasses. Complain when they make any call against your team. Shake fist and stomp feet in their general direction.

Mourn and celebrate. Levels of joy and sorrow are myriad depending on the successes or failures of the favorite team. Take for example the devoted Vandal fan. (The university will remain nameless to protect the devoted fan. Clue: There aren’t many universities in Idaho.) He’s still clinging to a win streak from long ago, overshadowed by his current losing streak. A first down, any first down, is a reason for celebration! His rival, whom he holds the win streak over, has moved on to greater foes, however, the fan still finds rejoicing in the beauty of his school colors. Much prettier than that ugly blue and orange! On the other hand, a fan whose team is rolling successfully along may become discouraged if they are leading the opponent by only twenty-one points. It’s all in one’s perspective.

Finally, a true fan will push his oxygen tank supporting walker into the stadium, through the crowds, to the concession stand, and down the bleachers, all the while wearing any or all of the apparel cited previously complete with matching hair coloring – preferably, half and half.