For the Love of Football

13 Oct

I had a meeting with my final project advisor for my master’s and he was giving me some advice on what he would like to hear about from me. He mentioned my love of sports, and particularly football because we’ve had various discussions about football before. I asked what he meant since I didn’t really know what more there is to say. Football is awesome. Period.

He asked me, “What kind of fan are you?”

“What?”

He added, “Well are you a woman fan or a male fan”?

My immediate response, without even thinking was, “I don’t wear skirts to a football game”.

“So you’re a male fan then,” he replied.

I was thinking the same thing. I know this is stereotypical and I know he knows that. But still, I managed to make my point. And you should know that it drives me insane to see girls in full on makeup and mini skirts at a football game. This is the gridiron. This is men tackling one another in mid run. This is blood, sweat, and tears. This is not a skirt-wearing occasion. So I beg of you… if you are a woman who does this, just stop. Stop now. You don’t look cute. You look silly. No, don’t argue. Trust me.

Not every woman has to be as into the game as I am. Some just come for the beer and the men in tight pants. That’s fine. But show a little respect. At least make a little attempt to understand what is going on on the field. And men, if you’re going to invite your woman to a game she doesn’t understand then have the patience to teach her. Don’t get mad when she asks questions. If you want it to be your “guy thing” then fine, but no making fun of her for taking no interest. And women, respect the fact that it’s more than just a game.

Now I realize that most of this post is stereotypical when it comes to discussing football and gender roles. That’s the point. A bigger part of this to consider though is what happens when we step outside of these roles?

Interestingly enough, my ex-husband had zero interest in football and didn’t know a thing about the game. He came to a couple, but looked incredibly bored the entire time. He would get upset if date night was cut short to go home and watch the game. When we got home he would hang in his man cave, while I sat in front of the 55 inch HD gloriousness that was bringing me some serious business for the next 3.5 hours. I’ve said many times since the separation that the next man MUST like football. It’s become a requirement. It’s such a part of me and my family’s life that he doesn’t have to love the game the way I do, but he needs to be able to deal with it and at the very least understand that it’s my thing. So I’ve come to think that it’s not that unusual that I’m a woman and I love football. Apparently it often is.

I myself must confess that despite my feminist ways and encouragement to those who step outside of the gender roles society has given them, if I meet a man who doesn’t like football it’s like the world isn’t spinning correctly. My sister would probably be the one to yell at me the most for this. She has her PhD in social psychology and spent 5 years at the University of Michigan studying various issues in gender. It’s really fascinating stuff and I’ve learned an incredible amount from her. Football is just a simple reminder of how much gender roles affect everything in our world. Looking back, I realize that I was the only female undergrad in my group of friends who knew what was really happening on the field.

(Side story that I find hilarious: one of my friends actually asked once “where’s the yellow line?” For football fans you know she was asking about the line they put on the TV screen so viewers can see the first down marker. This still makes me laugh. But she learned, which is the point.)

Overall, I think it’s nice to remember that we don’t have to fit into the gender stereotypes that we’ve been given. Just be you. Regardless of what society is saying you should be.  But you should like football. Everyone should like football.

Football love,
Amy

Let’s chat: How do you challenge gender roles? And more importantly, are you a female or male football fan? And do you wear skirts to sporting events — don’t answer that. 

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