I used to dread Sundays and Mondays when I was working. These days, I can’t wait for them to roll around so that I can watch football.
I wasn’t always into football. I would watch the Superbowls, but more for the ads than the play. I was more of a basketball and baseball fan during my high school and college years. I didn’t get into football until last year – the Giants’ season opener against the Redskins.
My husband grew up in the D.C. area and was a big Redskins fan growing up, but didn’t keep up with the team after high school as free agency led to the players moving to different teams. He then spent most of his post-college years living overseas until we moved to New York in June of last year. He now wanted to get back into the NFL, and I figured I’d join in. We decided to adopt New York as our new hometown and root for the Giants. Well, they played well and won! Ever since then I was hooked on the Giants and football. (I do like the Jets too, but I like the Giants more.)
Last season, work often got in the way of me watching my Giants play, but since I am out of work, this season I can watch football to my heart’s content. Over the Thanksgiving break, I watched all three NFL games — Patriots vs. Lions, Saints vs. Cowboys, and Bengals vs. Jets – on Thursday and the Jaguars vs. Giants and the Eagles vs. Bears games on Sunday. That is a lot of football over a four-day weekend, and I loved it. In addition to their own games, I also like watching games that indirectly affect the Giants’ or the Jets’ standing in its respective division. I always root for their divisional opponents to lose.
I find football games fascinating on so many different levels. The games, especially when two nemesis in the same division meet, can be exciting to watch. It is a good way to let loose – cheering wildly for your team and swearing your head off at the opposing team – while high-fiving or joshing with complete strangers at crowded sports bars. And every time I watch a game, I am reminded of the persistence required to live through the precariousness of life.
Football rules are complicated, but the main challenge is simple: to reach the opponent’s end zone in increments of at least 10 yards. You get four tries to get 10 yards. In a way, each 10 yards is a self-contained unit. It doesn’t matter how hard it was to barely squeeze out the last 10 yards in four grueling tries or how easy it was to gain 30 yards in one seemingly effortless throw on the last play. The next 10 yards is a clean slate with its allotted four tries.
The past matters, but the present matters more. I am where I am, and it is up to me to make the most of my current state. I don’t have to be confined by the disadvantages of the past nor be immobilized by the lofty goals of the future. I should take responsibility for the present and just focus on making enough progress.
Because the present is fraught with unpredictability.
In a football game, momentum can change in a blink. A hard earned drive to the red zone can be suddenly squandered with a fumble or an interception or a major foul. A double-digit lead on the scoreboard can vanish within a quarter. Oftentimes, one or two possessions can change the entire tenor of a game.
It’s also interesting to me how strategies are constantly evolving during a game. An offense’s running game can be shut down with a different defensive formation and a passing game can be thwarted with different cornerback assignments. I am not well versed with the different strategies, but I like the fact that a game is often not over until the very end.
This teaches me not to be complacent when I am up and not to give up when I am down – to keep trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t.
Finally, I am attracted to football for its balance between assigned responsibilities and improvisation. Every player has his assigned duty – cornerbacks to prevent the wide receivers from receiving the ball thrown by the quarterback, offensive linemen to protect the pocket against onrushing defensive linebackers, etc. But flexibility is still paramount. And at the end of the day when things get wild, every player needs to be alert and be ready to depart from the plan and catch, grab, pick, or punch the unwieldy ellipsoidal ball however it comes; provided, of course, that he complies with the complicated rules of the game.
Ah, yes. Individualism within a law-abiding society. Getting that balance right – finding the fine line – is a key to success.
As it turns out, football played an unexpected role in my decision to quit law. It was an experience at last season’s memorable Cowboys vs. Giants game at the (old) Meadowlands stadium that became the “straw that chipped the camel’s back” in my thinking about my career.
These days, it’s above all good fun to watch and cheer. I’m not planning to get philosophical when I watch the Giants vs. Redskins game tomorrow afternoon (hopefully to relive the moment I fell in love with the Giants) and the epic battle between the New York Jets and the New England Patriots on Monday night. I am just a chick cheering for my football teams, teetering on the edge of the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.