Consider the female football fan.
Take me, for example.
I have loved football for as long as I can remember, and sometimes I think my affection for the game is partly nostalgic, in that I used to watch football games with my father on the weekends, flopped on the living room floor, eating potato chips by the large-size bag and drinking Coke after Coke.
I know what you're thinking.
Actually, I don't.
You're either thinking, that's a lot of sugar and saturated fats for one family.
Or you’re thinking, the good old days.
I myself am thinking both things, as it's well-known that any calories you consume while you're having fun with your family will only add time to your life, as in 300 calories equals 300 extra minutes.
I know it's not scientific, but I might be right.
In any event, I find myself with a lifelong habit of watching football, and sometimes I think about how strange that is, since I never played the game. Like most girls, I grew up playing the sports we were allowed to play, like field hockey, basketball, tennis, and, later in college, rowing.
But girls didn't get to play football.
And though there are plenty of female fans watching football these days, when you come to think about it, it is a little strange, given that the overwhelming majority of us have never played the game and never will.
If you’re like me, it means you kind of understand the rules, but not completely.
I myself get the gist.
Remarkably, that’s enough to get by, unless the telecast does one of those You Make the Call things, in which case I shout out whatever most people I’m with are shouting.
Some women fake orgasms. Other women fake fouls.
But sometimes it can feel a little strange to be a female football fan.
Like when the camera cuts away to the cheerleaders and lingers way too long.
I always think, I hope they're not too cold.
I may be a woman, but I'm also a mother.
Last weekend was an interesting time to think about football and gender, since it was historic. On Sunday, the NFL had its first female referee officiate on field during a playoff game. Her name is Sarah Thomas, and before this, she was the first woman to officiate in a major college game, the first woman to officiate in a bowl game, and the first woman to officiate in a Big Ten stadium.
I have a girl crush on Sarah Thomas.
By the way, she’s also a wife and a mother of three children, and I want her to adopt me.
I need somebody to keep me in line.
If they have a whistle, all the better.
If I did something wrong, she could throw a flag.
If it were red, I would ignore it.
I personally ignore all red flags.
That's why I'm divorced twice.
Instead, I think of myself as a bull.
If you wave something red at me, I run toward it.
Although that doesn't even work for bulls.
But back to Sarah Thomas.
Way to go, Sarah!
As for the NFL, my first thought is, Way to go!
My second thought is, What took you so long?
My third thought is, How many men have been required to have such a sterling resumé before they officiated on field during a playoff game?
I call foul.
Still, I’m delighted the NFL gave Sarah Thomas a job, despite her ovaries.
By the way, the NFL started in 1920.
It only took them 99 years.
I wonder why they didn't wait one more.
Why not round it up to 100?
I mean, if you’re going to discriminate, go all-in.
Anybody can discriminate for 99 years, but 100?
Which might be why the NFL got in under the wire.
But I'm speculating.
Ironically, 1920 was also the year women got the vote.
Almost a hundred years later, we got the call.
What I'm wondering is who thinks that how you vote in a national election is less important than whether there was pass interference?
Let's just say we finally broke the plane.
Anyway, I still love football.
I watch all the games.
I buy all the gear.
I get caught up in the season, whether it's good or bad.
I read about the players.
I love them all, especially the Philadelphia Eagles.
They had a terrific season and they are great.
They don’t owe us anything, and, on the contrary, we owe them.
Because it's not about the NFL, or the rules, or any of the other stuff.
And it's not even about my father, potato chips, or Coke.
It starts with the team. For me it’s the Eagles, but for you it could be a different team, your hometown team, your favorite team, and somehow if football works the way it’s supposed to, those of us sitting at home feel a part of that team, connected to it and then to each other, and thereby connected to something even larger, not just the city, or even the country, but to an emotion that isn’t tethered to a literal place or anything external, but rather to something internal, as deep as it goes, soul-deep, to the human heart.
Let's call it love.
See you next season.