|Football and…really, it’s an excuse to post a picture of Gideon.|
I’m a sports fan. Some of my earliest memories are centered around sports, and teams like the Boston Celtics, Georgetown Hoyas, and of course the Nebraska Cornhuskers. The Huskers have always been my favorite team.* As a Nebraska kid, I had a strong bond with the team. I remember them putting up 84 points on Minnesota back in 1983. My first favorite Husker was RB Jeff Smith. And I cried when they were upset in the 1984 Orange Bowl.
*Well, there was that brief period, during the 2007 season, where I was disgusted with the Husker program thanks to Steve Pederson and Bill Callahan.
Because of the Huskers, I’m a fan of college football.
Now, back when I was a kid I followed nearly every sport. The NFL was on television throughout the day on Sunday, and on at a time that I could watch it. I spent many Sunday afternoons sitting and watching various NFL games.* Watching college football on Saturday, and the NFL on Sunday, helped me to learn my multiplication tables.**
*I’m not the only kid that hated the beginning of 60 Minutes because it meant the games were over and a new school week was ready to begin.
**One of my favorite stories. I’m in second grade, and I’m just crushing it in class with various multiplication problems. My teacher, somewhat amazed, asks how I got to be so good at multiplication. She asked, probably hoping the answer would be studying or practicing. Nope. “From watching football,” is my reply. She’s flabbergasted, and then I tell her, and the class, how you can learn your multiplication through counting touchdowns and field goals. I did not endear myself to her that day.
When I was a kid, my dad went on a lot of business trips to Washington DC and New York City. I think this was part of the reason I gravitated toward the New York Jets and the Washington Redskins. Washington had just won the Super Bowl, thanks to John Riggins. The Jets? Well, they had a cool history with Joe Namath, I liked their colors, and in my first pack of football cards I got a Freeman McNeil card.
Let’s just say the bonds with those teams weren’t as strong as my bond with the Huskers.
As I grew up, I stopped following the Jets. Then I stopped following Washington. When I graduated from high school, I didn’t have a favorite NFL team. I still followed the NFL, and watched the games whenever I could, but was more of a general fan.
Over the years, I tried to like some NFL teams. When I was living in Arkansas, I followed the Dallas Cowboys. They were always on, and one of my good friends was a huge fan of the team. I also tried following the New England Patriots because of being a fan of other Boston teams. However, it never really stuck with either team. When it came to football, the Huskers were my team. And, if no NFL team would interest me during the Husker dark ages of the Pederson-Callahan era, then no team would ever really interest me.
The past few years, the only reasons I seemed to be watching the NFL were due to fantasy football, specific players (like Aaron Rodgers) and having always watched the NFL since my childhood. I had started to become indifferent to the game. Plus, the growing epidemic with concussions and football has turned me off a bit.
This year? I haven’t watched a game. At first, it was due to schedule constraints, but then I thought about it more. “Why even make time to watch something I really don’t care about?” I don’t need to spend Sunday afternoon sitting in front of a television for reasons like fantasy football* and nostalgia.
*I hadn’t planned on doing fantasy football this year, due to work, but a friend of mine asked if I wanted to play in his league. I decided to play, and my fantasy football team has a winning record and made the playoffs. Do I need to watch the games, or read all the articles, to be good at it? No. I’m clueless this year.
I’ve also stopped reading a variety of NFL content. Not only do I not use my Sunday afternoons to watch the NFL anymore, I try not to use my time during the week to follow the sport. For as long as I can remember having regular access to the Internet, I’ve been reading Peter King. His Monday Morning QB column on SI.com has been something I’ve read every week. Even though I wasn’t that much of an NFL fan, I liked reading his column. I stopped reading it this season. I don’t follow his work, along with Don Banks’, Bill Simmons’ NFL work, or anyone else’s related to the NFL…and I don’t miss it. I don’t miss any of it.
I’m thirty-five, married, father of three, and I work fulltime. I don’t have much spare time. My wife Jana is already gracious with me when it comes to watching, and following, the Huskers. Why would I spend an entire Sunday afternoon watching and following a game I don’t care about when there are a number of things I’d rather be doing? My boys want to play with me. Jana and I have to schedule out in advance to have a date. I have a stack of books I want to read. There are things I want to write about. I am getting ready to launch an Online Campus at church. I’ve already cut back with following teams I do care about, like the Boston Red Sox. For me, the decision was easy, and it seems like I discovered hours in the day I didn’t know existed.
It’s funny because everyone talks about how the NFL is king in the United States. Yet, as I’ve decided to drop it from my life, I think about other sports I follow and whether or not I want to continue to do so. I’m guessing I’ll still be a fan with some of them, just not the fanatic I once was. I’m debating with those sports and teams, but with the NFL there wasn’t much of a debate.
I plan on watching the Super Bowl, more so because it’s an event that transcends the game. Plus, I enjoy conversing with people throughout the game, on Twitter, and watching the commercials. I hope this year’s Super Bowl features the Green Bay Packers and the Denver Broncos. Why them? Because I like Aaron Rodgers and Tim Tebow. If it is different teams? Cool. I won’t care. I’ll be glad to be talking to friends on Twitter, seeing previews for upcoming movies, and that I had five months of productive Sundays back in my life.