I am a college football fan, mostly out of necessity. I’ve been the minority gender at my house since 1976. Having a husband, two boys and no girls was great most of the time, but left me with the choice of a) becoming a football fan so I’d have someone to talk to from August to January, or b) not becoming a football fan, and having lots of time to do girl things by myself. I didn’t want to miss a whole chunk of my children’s growing up just because they were, well, boys, so I became sort of a football fan. When my boys were younger I’d read Sports Illustrated for Kids while were at school. When they got home and excitedly paged through the magazine, I’d be ready. I could talk football, and most sports with them, and not be left out. And it turned out to be fun.
As the kids became older it got easier. First, I had learned more by then, and second, they had other things they wanted to do besides talk to me, so I didn’t have to keep up with quite so much. So I’d just read up on Michigan (the University of Michigan that is) and the Chicago Bears, and I’d be set. And then I’d follow my favorite quarterbacks, because while working hard to become a faux football fan, I actually found a few things I liked about football. Doug Flutie for instance.
Then, something happened to up the ante. First born son entered the University of Michigan and began to play in the marching band. Suddenly, I didn’t just have to know about football, but I had to GO to it. Well, I didn’t HAVE to go, I wanted to go to it, because what mom wouldn’t want to see her first-born child marching across the field at The Big House. And so I went. I became the postal worker of football – through rain, snow, sleet, and dark of night, I was there. I’m usually the kind of person who does not voluntarily sit outside once the weather is colder than 60 degrees, but I went in all kinds of weather. Sometimes I had to slide a slab of ice off the bleacher before I could sit down. More than once I sat in driving rain, wearing that true fashion statement, the rain poncho. Suddenly, I owned more cold-weather gear than Edmund Hillary. I bought hand-warmers by the case. But it wasn’t all cold work and no play. I got to go to the Rose Bowl with my whole family in 1998. And I got to spend countless hours with my boys as they were growing up, that I would have missed had I eschewed football for only girl things.
Today, I have new football buddy. Grandson Zachary entered the world as we were heading down the highway to yet another Michigan game. As I sat shivering in the chilly wind, singing “Hail to the Victors” for the umpteenth time, I kept pulling out my phone to look at the picture of my sweet little newest Michigan fan. Before too long we’ll be able to toss a little football, and talk about quarterbacks, the secondary, and interceptions. I can’t wait.
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