A Canadian Chick’s Guide to American Football

Football season is upon us, and I find myself in a bit of a predicament.

I’m a chick AND a Canadian, so technically I’m not really supposed to like football. But football and I have a bit of a history. Like an ex that you have fond memories of and now you can’t really remember why you broke up.

Football was the first sport that caught the attention of my otherwise bookish mind. It was also the first sport I ever played and enjoyed. And the first sporting event I ever watched live.

Not that I knew what was going on at my first game. And not that I was a great player. I can still watch a football game and only vaguely understand it. But I do understand why it’s good.

When I was 17 I joined a rather disorganized girl’s football team. It was a church-organized thing, and we were really not much more than low-income misfits trying to chase a ball. The coach was the only dude in the entire congregation willing to supervise us. He did it to feed his own ego, because he loved screaming at us and pretending that he was a real major league coach. He made a lot of girls cry, and when I started spending more time consoling crying teenagers than actually playing, I quit.

But from that day on, I always carried a football around to every picnic or beach trip or park. I’d beg people to toss it around with me, and if I got lucky I’d find someone willing to tackle.

What I now feel with barefoot running, I first felt for tackling. There’s something very primal about latching on to someone’s legs and trying to smash their face into the ground.

Here are other things I like about football:

  • Grass burn
  • Watching one body slam against another body, and the aftermath
  • Jumping on top of people
  • The skin-slap sting of the football if you don’t catch it right
  • Wondering if my arms are going to bruise, then realize they’re just gonna be red for a while
  • Walking into a stadium and feeling really tiny
  • Climbing up to the nosebleed section and feeling a little dizzy with all the weird stair spacing, then sitting down and feeling like the King of the World

Football made me happy. But it was one of those things that I loved that I wasn’t SUPPOSED to love, so I stopped loving it.

American chicks seem a little different than the weeping football teammates I grew up with. Cut from a different cloth perhaps. And I daresay that if I had grown up here, I might have been a die-hard football fan by now.

Last week there was a city-wide power outage in San Diego, coiciding with the beginning of football season. This is how things went down in my office:

  1. All computers and lights shut out.
  2. A collective groan is heard throughout the floor because none of us were saving our work.
  3. One second later, piercing the silence, a girl’s voice screams in horror, “OMG NO FOOTBALL??!!!”

A few weeks ago I won football tickets. Because I’m a Canadian chick I didn’t even realize they were pre-season. But still. I had only been in San Diego for a few days then and maybe it was a sign.

Maybe football can be something I used to love but wasn’t supposed, but decided to love anyway.

And it’s just like running. Only you get to push people more.

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5 responses

  1. I was going to make fun of you last Sunday for being a Chargers fan. But then I realized that you may not be a Chargers fan just because you live in San Diego. Then it didn’t matter because the Vikings suck and they lost anyway. Can’t really rub that in anyone’s face…

  2. I don’t know much about sports, especially American sports, but if you love football for the reasons you mentioned you may love rugby even more!

  3. I loved reading that. Surprised you could draw parallels between football and running. I also wanted to say that I have a sneaky feeling if there was ever a power outage in the UK during a soccer game there’ll riots on the streets!!!!!

  4. I was raised in Texas where the big three go: Football, God, Family. I guess I was genetically predisposed to love football. Some of my best memories are the huge neighborhood footballs games we played growing up. My dad was the quarterback for both teams and he always spread the ball around to all the kids. I loved defending the pass and knocking the crap out of any poor kid who caught the ball. Of course, true glory was an interception and running frantically to try for a touchdown. I can still feel my heartbeat speed up as I remember that half-panicked, full-out sprint for the driveway marking the endzone. Sort of a rabbit being chased by a coyote feel, followed by a gigantic grin when I “chicked” all those tough boys and scored. :)

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