This post is dedicated to my loving and patient wife, Lindsey. With the football season underway, she has truly become a “Football Widow” and I, for one, am very grateful to her for it. Click that link for an awesome post about football widows and some tips if you are still adjusting to life as one. I would like to add a few tips of my own however:
1. Sign up for emails from the team. Lindsey gets a daily email from the Red Sox with news/updates and, sometimes, even ticket offers. I assure you, there is nothing better than getting a phone call from your spouse because he/she wants to talk about what the Sox will do now that Kottaras is on the DL or because the team just released a block of seats for the game that night. Knowledge is sexy and nothing beats sports knowledge.
2. Understand that 2 minutes doesn’t actually mean 2 minutes.
3. If you are going to watch the game, make sure you have a couple of sports-related comments or reactions prepared and understand the proper time to use them. Last night, we were watching the Packers-Bears game and Lindsey, after a particularly jarring hit, made a ouch sound and commented that that looked like a painful way to fall. She waited until after the play, during the reply to make the comment and left it at that. Perfect! (NOTE: This is an advanced tip and must be practiced before being used in a game situation)
4. Understand and appreciate the pain your significant other feels when he/she has to miss a game. It could be for a happy reason (wedding, art show) or a sad reason (funeral). The pain is still there and anything you can do to ease that pain is appreciated. Along those lines, learn early on if getting the score is what is best, or if your partner prefers to wait until later to watch highlights or DVR or something. If the latter, then you must do everything in your power to protect your partner from score information. You are like the secret service and the score is an assassin’s bullet. It is that serious.
5. Even if the game has just ended…and your partner has watched the whole game…he/she will still want to watch the highlights. Highlights provide additional insight, extreme pleasure/pain, and are a relaxing way to wide down after the game. The “5th Quarter” isn’t as important as the first four, but it can be close. However, don’t force the highlights on them. If their team has suffered a terrible loss, they may choose to not watch the highlights. Respect that.
6. Let me give you a sense of the requirements of each day of the week during the football season:
Monday: Wind-down after an exciting Sunday. Trash talk (nicely) your colleagues who may be fans of other teams. Read MMQB on cnnsi or whatever your favorite recap articles are. Prepare for the MNF game (s) by making any last minute changes to your fantasy lineup and game watching plans.
Tuesday: Celebrate or cry over your success/losses in each fantasy league you are in (including pick ’em, or eliminator) and begin to game plan for the upcoming weekend. What worked/didn’t work and how can we make appropriate changes. Today is also a good day to spend some quality time with box scores looking at all appropriate information (how well did your players do? What defenses showed some holes? How involved were players in the game plan? etc…)
Wednesday: First injury reports are released today, so be prepared to act accordingly. Also, many fantasy leagues have a 3-day waiver period, so today is a really good day to pick up someone you want to have available for the coming Sunday. (Of course, if there is a Thursday game, this throws a wrench into these plans….)
Thursday: If there is a game, make sure you make all your picks and line-up changes in time. If there is a game on Thursday, it is nationally televised so the NFL thinks it is a game you will want to watch. Trust them.
Friday: This has been the day that I tend to make my picks and “finalize” my lineups. Obviously, I will make late adjustments as the games draw near, but I like to spend some time on Friday looking at injury reports and making decisions about which team will win
Saturday: 3 important jobs: 1. Finalize your game-watching plans. 2. If you are into CFB, watch some games. 3. Do any chores/errands so you are not feeling stress on Sunday.
Sunday: Football time starts early. Make sure you have a good pre-game plan (shows? cooking?). As game-time draws near, pop open that first beer (try to make it from the region your team is from but, at the very least, do not drink a beer brewed in your opponents city. That is asking for trouble!) and enjoy the games.
Anyway, I’m lucky that Lindsey has become a true Red Sox fan (hard not to in Boston), is really into the Bruins, is getting into the Celtics and tolerates the Patriots. Maybe she’ll have more insight into coping mechanisms or how to make the transition from casual fan to true fan. Because, when all is said and done, the best way to watch a game is with your interested and excited partner.
To celebrate the first game of the NFL season tonight (Steelers 21, Titans 17 in case you were wondering) I give you my rules for watching football with friends. This is from a column I wrote years ago for the Drew University newspaper, The Acorn, but it still relevant today. Enjoy!
As I see it, there are 10 rules which, when followed, will make viewing a game with your friends so enjoyable, even I might come over. Break any of these rules, and woe to you. Here are the rules, in no particular order.
1. Don’t talk excessively on the phone to a 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. You can wait a few hours. If you must check in with your love, do NOT ever do it during game action. There is never a good excuse to talk on the phone while the game is going on.
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. Be careful about how far the taunting goes.
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. Showing up late without a valid reason is simply uncalled for and distracting. If your friend shows up late, I hope you will time your hello so that you do not miss a moment of the action. Once the game begins, there is no response too cold for a late arrival.
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, and if you think it is I would recommend reassessing your sense of humor.
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 suffer.
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. Luckily, on most Sundays there are two games going on. Switching to another game is perfectly fine, but the timing must be worked out so you do not miss a moment of the action from your primary game. Many of us have mastered the art of switching back just as the commercials end and the action begins. If you must switch, do not mess up. It is akin to dropping the game-winning touchdown pass with no time left on the clock. Practice your 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, and continuing to this day, it is understood that if I am there to watch a game, that is my seat. No one would ever challenge that. It may be the most comfortable seat in the room. Deal with it. Superstition is more important than comfort every time. I must add that it is a horrible crime to fake a lucky seat for your own personal comfort. I shudder at the thought of anyone ever being that selfish.
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 Eagles-Patriots game, and I have Donovan McNabb on my fantasy team. When McNabb throws for his second TD pass of the game, 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.
And the most important rule of watching football?
Enjoy the game.