Happy Opening Day!!
Well it is finally here and we are all ready. The stadiums are ready, the crowds are getting fired up, the players have memorized the playbook and the officials…well, they are at home. But we have replacement officials and I’m so excited about the NFL returning that I almost don’t care. Hey, it’ll just make us all think we are watching the actual NBA officials. What’s a penalty? No one knows!
To celebrate the first game of the NFL season tonight (Cowboys 27 Giants 24 in case you were wondering) I give you my newly updated rules for watching football with friends. Earlier versions of this list have been blown up and hung next to TVs, been posted in a college bar in Madison, NJ and emailed to literally dozens of people. I believe in these rules, and I stand by them. If you disagree, please don’t invite me over and just go back to rooting for the Kansas City Chiefs. No, it’s not going to be your year!
1. Don’t talk communicate with a non-football fan significant other.
If you have a girlfriend or boyfriend, more power to you. If they want to watch the game with you and your friends, that is more than acceptable (see rule 7). However, you must not spend valuable game-viewing time talking to them on the phone, tweeting them, emailing them, texting them, instagraming them (is that a thing?), facebooking them etc… You can wait a few hours. I don’t care how hot they are or how excited you are about what they are promising you for after the game. If you must check in with your love, do NOT ever do it during game action, replays or between play commentary. And, seriously, for the sake of all of us, leave the room.
2. Don’t gloat too much if your team is winning.
You are watching the game with friends. Friends. It is important to stay friends after the game is over. In order for that to happen you must not gloat if your team is beating your friend’s team. It is fine, even expected, to cheer and be happy. Some needling is perfectly acceptable, but there is a line. You must find that line for yourself, but there is a line. It is important to note that the line will change if, earlier in the game or season, your friend crossed the line in his or her behavior toward you. If that has occurred, all bets are off. I’m looking at you Jets fans. You may start strong…oh, who am I kidding, no you won’t.
3. Don’t come late.
This should be a no-brainer. The game starts at 1 p.m., not 1:20. Show up on time or, better yet, show up early and get yourself emotionally prepared for the game. I had a theater director who once said to me “If you are early, you are on time. If you are on time, you are late. If you are late, you’re fired.” Showing up late without a valid reason is simply uncalled for, selfish and distracting. Just don’t do it.
4. Don’t block the TV for any reason.
The TV is the most important object in the room. It must be treated as such. If you must get up, do not cross in front of the TV. If you must and, by must, I mean there is absolutely no other option, get down on your belly and crawl. DO NOT BLOCK THE GAME! EVER! It is never funny, never amusing and always upsetting.
5. Go to the bathroom during commercials. You have two minutes. Use them wisely.
On that same subject, you should not be leaving your seat until there is an appropriate break in the action. Commercial breaks are two minutes long. This is plenty of time to take care of any business. If the game has begun before you make it back to your seat, stand by the door. Do not try to crawl over your friends or make them move. You have been neglectful and you must wait. Or, better yet, make up for it by getting us all a beer.
6. Do not discuss other subjects.
You may need to plan a study group. You may want to tell all about the fabulous time you had the night before or that hot date you have tonight. Great! We want to hear it! (Well, maybe not the study group part.) But, for all of our sakes, wait until after the game! Don’t make us choose between your story and the game. I promise, you will lose out every time. Wait until after the game. If it must be told, it can be told during halftime.
7. No PDA!
I would think this goes without saying, but, more often than you’d think, it doesn’t. As I said earlier, if your significant other, or really close friend, wants to watch the game with you and your friends, that is fine. But there will be no cuddling. No massages. No hand holding. Nothing. You are here to watch the game, and you must never allow something to take you out of that state. Hugging after a great play is OK (chest bumping is preferred). But sustained cuddling has no place in the viewing room.
8. Switching to other games is fine…anything else is a no-no.
Commercials are becoming more and more insipid and harder to watch. Therefore, I am revising my NFL Red Zone rule. I used to think that NFL Red Zone should not be watched while your team is playing. It’s a perfect way to spend the other non-home team game hours, but that’s it. Now, however, I have decided to allow it during commercials of the chosen game. But there are consequences to this shift. The remote control holder has enormous responsibility to ensure you don’t miss a moment of your game. That means having your finger on the “last” button and timing things to the minute. Some of us have perfected that skill and I implore you to not underestimate that power of the remote control timing.
9. If someone has a lucky seat, respect that.
I rode the left seat on my friend’s couch all the way to a Super Bowl Championship for the Patriots in 2004. During this entire period my hold on that seat was respected and, while I would never claim the Pats won because of that respect, it sure didn’t hurt. Now, the lucky seat does not carry over into the new season but, for a playoff run, it is crucial.
10. Fantasy players may not be cheered for when they’re against your team.
Look, we all have fantasy teams, and we all want them to win. Checking the box scores to see how your players do is fine. But cheering for a play against your team because it was made by a player on your fantasy team is inexcusable. DO NOT DO IT! Let’s say I am watching an Panthers-Patriots game, and I have Cam Newton on my fantasy team. When Newton throws for his second TD pass of the game or makes a ridiculous run, I will be upset, and nothing but upset. I have been known to bench players who will be playing the Patriots in the upcoming week, thus avoiding any temptation. But, even if you don’t bench them, make sure you are not being pulled to root for them.
And the most important rule of watching football?
Enjoy the game. Let’s have a great season!!