In the 'Throws' of Football Season

In the ‘Throws’ of Football SeasonOne Wife’s Goal to Understand Football

By Lori Hutzler Eckert

Fall is in full swing. For me, the season brings a host of holiday celebrations, a much-needed respite from the heat of a long Florida summer, and fabulous autumn clothes (my favorite time of year for fashion, no less). For my husband, Richard, fall brings football.

And nothing else.

His birthday is in October, our anniversary is in November, and of course, there’s Halloween, Thanksgiving and the beginnings of the Christmas season. These are occasions to work in and around some “very important games.”

Games?

Don’t get me wrong; I think football is exciting (though not as great as buying a super-hot pair of Christian Dior chocolate-brown, spiked-heeled, suede knee boots). The game is our modern-day version of jousting – cheering and leering in unison to the death, or until the nachos and beer run out.

I am not totally unfamiliar with the game, or at least the understanding of its underlying importance in my daily life. After all, I grew up in Saints football country, where I literally prayed on game day that New Orleans’ underdog team would win – or even score – so my dad would be in a good mood. Consequently, he was cranky quite a bit during my childhood.

So now that I am married, I am trying to embrace my otherwise perfect spouse’s passion; however, I have come to take a few exceptions with this national pastime.

Let’s talk about time. The whole concept of time in the football world is merely an illusion, meant to keep us novices at bay. For example, when I ask, “Richard, can you help me move the summer clothes upstairs and bring the fall clothes downstairs?” he amiably responds by saying, “Sure, only two more minutes to the half.”

For me, two minutes means 120 seconds.

I can easily wait two minutes, right? Ten minutes later, after a series of timeouts, instant (albeit slow-motion) replays, endorsements for ridiculously priced tennis shoes (don’t bring up those boots), in-depth interviews by the petite blonde journalist on the sidelines, and cheerleader routines just one shake and half a shimmy short of requiring a pole, I still am sitting on a pile of linen sundresses wondering why the quarter countdown clock says 1 minute and 15 seconds to go.

These days, when he says “two minutes,” I ask if he is referring to time as modern civilization knows it or the ever-popular “football time.” Clear and consistent communication is a bonus in a marriage.

I also am baffled by the commentary required for football. Several studies have indicated that men use far fewer words per day than women. Obviously, this research was conducted during the off-season.

My husband can come home from work, only to tell me that “not much” happened during his day. But this same man can have a 45-minute conversation about a game’s 15-second kickoff.

And he’s not alone. When two or more men gather from September through January, football is going to come up, and the group of guys becomes, dare I say it, giddy. The in-depth dissection of last week’s game and the predictions for this week’s game rival discussions at any females’ night out, animation included. I love it when the guys actually reenact a play in the middle of a business meeting. (You know who you are.)

This bantering and posturing isn’t limited to the fan level. Pregame shows, postgame shows, weekend wrap-ups and even entire 24-hour networks are devoted to the discussion of football. Three to four fading football stars, clad in coat and tie with suspiciously white teeth and perfect hair, spend hours parked at a neon-adorned desk telling us what’s going to happen in the next game, replete with a profound parlance that includes “crush,” “dominate” and “annihilate.”

High-tech, interactive graphics often are employed to illustrate any serious point – and please understand, there are many serious points in every game. Was his knee actually touching the ground or not? Was his right foot in, or was his right foot out? What is this, the “Hokey Pokey”?

Announcer: “Bob, let’s go to the high-definition, 24-camera-view, uber-instant replay and we can recreate the entire game in super high-tech, super-pixelated images so a 12-man conclave of football officials can analyze ‘The Play.’”

If we could donate this type of manpower and technology to forecasting hurricanes, earthquakes and other horrific natural disasters, I confidently suggest that the world would be a safer place. Instead, a jovial Terry Bradshaw can deftly diagram plays using his index finger like a magic Marks-a-Lot on the screen. I know I sleep better because of it.

But the graphics don’t stop there. Exhibit B: body paint. There is no reason to bring those two words together unless it is football season.

Does any mother put her heart and soul into raising her son just so, as an adult, he can be seen on national television shirtless and covered with sticky DayGlo body paint? From generic team colors to a detailed illustration of a face, center chest, that includes a belly-button mouth, this war-paint ritual perplexes me.

Tolerant as I am, the day Richard asks for my makeup before a football game is the day he is going to have to curb his football enthusiasm.

And he does have enthusiasm in abundance. I can know, simply by peering into our living room when Richard is watching a game, the state of his team’s performance by observing his posture and position. For example, reclining leisurely on the sofa means that not much has happened and there is no cause for concern. Sitting on the edge of the chair signals that the other team has scored, but his team still is in the game. Standing two feet from his 50-inch plasma-screen television, with surround-sound blaring, feet firmly planted shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent shows that the game could go either way. In the garage with a beer clearly signals there is no hope.

Seriously, I don’t think football is so bad. I like the competitive nature, the festive attitude and, of course, the halftime show, clothing malfunctions aside. So like a good wife, this year I have decided to be a sport, so to speak, and watch a few games. And maybe I will actually attend one or two games while I am at it. After all, he said the season will last only a few months – but that better not be in football time.