By Pat Tucker
Author of Football Widows
Does Sunday fill you with dread? Football season can be a difficult time of year for non-sports lovers (and though many of us ladies—40 percent of NFL viewers are women—love our football, let’s admit it: It’s not for everyone). Game days can be among the loneliest times in their lives. But they can survive the season as long as they remember that there’s life outside the huddle.
Have a solid game plan. The old adage “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” could be quite effective. But in order to do that, you must learn about the game. The NFL hosts “Football 101” classes in most major cities. Often times, players will make an appearance to help with instruction. If you’re the type who jumps all the way in, familiarize yourself with favorite teams; learn the positions, and the names of some of the key players. This way you’ll be ready to watch the game with your loved one. If a do-it-yourself approach is better for you, there are a slew of websites that can teach you enough about to game to make you feel like you’re part of the sideline action. But if joining the team isn’t your idea of fun, make some adjustments.
Create your own special team. For instance, game time is the perfect chance for you to create a life all your own during the season. Perhaps while your football fan and his friends are watching the game, you can hang out with other football widows. Considering the fact that you have so much in common, the offer may be just what other women are looking for as well. Once organized, your team can spend time shopping, checking out the latest chick flick movie, or you can organize a schedule to go spa hopping. By the end of the season, you’ll be well relaxed, and well versed on where to score the best massage, facials, and mani-pedis.
The kitchen is closed. There are positives during this time of year as well. If you struggle with dinner options during the week, game day is an official break away from the kitchen. You see, during football season your sports-obsessed housemate is no longer concerned with food. A menu of snacks coupled with ice cold beer seems perfectly logical when everyone’s immersed in the game.
Suit up on Sundays. Regardless of whether you want to hear this, more and more women are joining the team. And by team, we’re talking the NFL’s fan base. Statistics indicate 40 percent of the NFL’s fan base is female. Those same stats show that more women tuned in to the Super Bowl than the combined number of men and women who watched the Academy Awards. It’s becoming more apparent that women love the NFL just as much, if not more, than men. And because of this growing interest in the game, the league is finally acknowledging its female presence. There are a series of athletic clothing lines designed with women in mind. Also, in October NFL players literally change their colors for a worthy cause. You’ll notice they’re outfitted with pink gloves, pink cleats, and pink chin straps to help raise awareness and funds needed for breast cancer research.
We now interrupt our regularly scheduled programming. Along with the sights and sounds of autumn comes the shrill of a referee’s whistle. Accept the reality that a loved one will soon be planted in a favorite spot on the sofa, eyes glued to the screen, hand clutching the remote. When this person is in the zone, their attention is otherwise occupied and nothing the widow can say or do will interrupt this focus. Recognize the action on the gridiron will temporarily replace family, chores lists, and ability to hear or comprehend anything a family member or spouse utters.
How long do you have to put up with this madness? A typical NFL season has four pre-season games, 16 games with one week off (called a “bye” week), followed by up to four playoff games for teams who make the cut. There’s usually another week off, then it’s the Super Bowl. But wait, there’s more: the Pro Bowl. And the Hall of Fame Game. At least college football season is shorter.
Although it may seem to drag on forever, don’t fret. Just like it started, the season will eventually end. While it may appear as if those 15-minute quarters are more valuable than gold, your loved one’s focus will soon return to normal—regardless of whether that’s good or bad.