When I was young I lived in a small rural farm town. There wasn’t a lot that went on there, but the people had a huge amount of pride in their little town. Seemed like at the time, most of the families had lived there for generations, and most had relatives that lived nearby. On any Friday night in the fall, you could count on almost everyone who was able to be at the high school stadium to watch their team play. A lot of that small town’s emotional state was based on how the team did from week to week. Back a few years ago, I was traveling through the community on business and stopped at a local diner for lunch. Just eavesdropping on the conversations from the tables around us, I heard numerous men discussing how they thought the team might do in the coming year. Just looking around I saw a fair number of people with ball caps and jackets with the team’s logo or initials on it that they were wearing with pride. I can remember how as a little boy I looked up to those players as heroes.
As I grew older, I spent many days in our backyard with just a football and a tee. I would punt or kick the ball from one end of the yard to the other and then back again. We had moved to another town, and on Saturdays we would ride up to the big university an hour away to go to the football games. I was enamored by the big stadium, big band, and great football players that I would see each week. Back then, passing was not a big part of the college game, so most teams would run an offense called the triple option. I practiced hours and hours in the backyard running the triple option with precision with “air” defensive players, an “air” fullback, and an “air” tailback. I was the quarterback and I was unstoppable.
Once I got to junior high school and high school, I played on the real field in real action. I would work, sweat, hit, be hit, get bruised, and be exhausted after practice and couldn’t wait until the next day to do it all over again. When you were a football player, you walked a little taller, talked with more confidence, and felt like everything was right with the world. As I got to the end of high school, I gave up football. I thought it was time to move on to thinking about a career and college goals. I never stopped being a fan, though.
I still love to watch football. After playing it and growing up with it for so many years, I love to look at all of the strategy that goes on each and every play between the offense and defense. Last week was the first full week of NFL, college, and high school teams playing in the same weekend. There are games on TV that you can watch on Thursday nights, Friday nights, almost all day Saturdays, pretty much all day Sundays, and on Monday nights. Some weeks there are even games on the other nights that you can watch football. If you are a fan, it is easy to get trapped into watching football on TV nonstop this time of year and forget to take care of being there for your wife and family.
There are usually 2 or 3 games I really want to watch each week and the other games I watch are just because football is being played. What I find that happens with me is I neglect to be involved with my wife and family as much as I need to be. I kind of isolate myself to being a football watching zombie and walk in a daze around the house mumbling, “More football! More football!” Years ago, when the game or two finally began that I really wanted to see where “my teams” were playing, my wife used to get really upset about it. She felt neglected because I didn’t give her the attention she deserved and I was not happy because I was not getting to put my full attention toward the game. She is pretty patient and understanding about my passion for football these days. But she really appreciates it when I make sure to give her some attention and don’t ignore her.
Recently, my wife (www.peacefulwife.com) got an email from one of her readers that I thought expressed what a wife feels like during football season pretty well.
I remember standing in front of the television, more than once, demanding that my husband spend time with me and the kids. I begged the Lord to blow the TV up, and was tempted more than once to cut the cords on the roof. I would beg him to love me and get mad when he didn’t. I would even cry on his shoulder while he watched the ball game….and ask if he still loved me and why the game was more important to him than me. He would tell me, you can’t demand my time when and if you want it. I thought he was being soooo selfish and prideful. I never thought I was being disrespectful with my words…it seemed to me just a normal request and I couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t give in to my common sense demands and he was the one that had to be so controlling. It seemed to go in a cycle for me. I would do really well for a week or two giving him over to the Lord, and then bang I would just have to say something…If I didn’t who would, and we would go through the cycle all over again. He looked at it as an attack on his character; I looked at it as a lack of love. I spent many hours and days in prayer begging God to wake my husband up to his responsibilities…. not really seeing the sin in my own life. I had great expectations of how our marriage was suppose to be, I couldn’t understand why my husband would choose to live in a cave and not come out and be a part of my life. Wow, if I would have known this then…I wonder how things would have been different. I really thought he was the one in the wrong……If he was just more loving I would be happy.
I am definitely not going to say the man or the woman was right in this situation. It is probably easier to say that each was somewhat wrong. What I will say is that as men we need to be mindful of the time we are spending devoting ourselves to watching football and reliving the glory days of our youth. While I know that it is easy to get locked in while watching a game, sitting in your chair a certain way for luck even when you are watching a game using the DVR, and making your kitchen your personal concession stand, we are husbands and fathers first of all. I am not saying to not watch the game. What I am saying is we need to be human. We need to be able to break loose and interact with our wives and kids from time to time during the football games. If we can stop occasionally and let them know that we love them and care about their feelings, we might be able to not dig ourselves such a big hole in the frozen tundra we have created. Chances are your wife is not going to be as big a fan of football as you. She may try for one team or so, but probably not five out of the seven days in a week. Even if you are watching a game, try to be available to her to cuddle, hold hands, and rub her shoulders. Talk to her when you can and make sure when you do that most of it is not about football. For extra credit, you might even try to do some quick chores during commercials to help her around the house. I have folded a ton of laundry during football games.
With football especially, I know every game is important. When your team plays, you never fully feel secure that your team will win until the clock strikes 0:00. If for some strange reason, your team doesn’t pull off the victory this weekend, be careful to not let the outcome affect you and your family. Don’t let a college or NFL football game alter the way you treat them or respond to them. Remember that it is a game and particularly with the kids you are being a huge example of sportsmanship and maturity. I don’t drink adult beverages, but if you do, do not let the outcome of a game determine how much you drink or be a way to lessen the pain.
Lastly, win and lose with class. When my son was younger he knew that I was a fan of certain team but he didn’t understand football at all. He wouldn’t even watch it. If he heard that my team had lost a game he would go out of his way to rag me about my team losing. He has matured since then, but my point is to not be “that” guy. The guy that goes out of his way to stick it to you if your team loses, especially if there is a family member that might like a different team than you. Try to find the positives in each team and appreciate each team’s successes. Be wary of pumping up the bravado of your team in rivalry situations because it usually only puts you in a negative light.
Football is a game. It is about having fun and showing pride for your team, city, or state. Let’s try to make this a good experience for our wife and family. Enjoy the times when your team wins and walk away with dignity the times when you lose. Don’t make your wife a football widow this season.