I feel a bit out of place this time of year.
Everyone knows that football and the holidays go together. At gatherings with family or friends it's all about men watching football games and the women talking about the children or recipes in the kitchen.
I feel lost in that setting, somewhat like I've just been exiled to the Island of Misfit Toys from the classic 1964 TV show "Rudolph."
Confession time: I really could care less about football.
There, I said it. Let the chips fall where they may.
Some of you are trying to find your jaw on the floor, thinking I committed treason since everyone knows all true Americans love football. This is also the moment that the machismo crowd looks at you sideways - much like a dog does in trying to figure out a human being. I know, I know. They might erroneously assume that I am "one of those" kind of men. Not hardly as I've always been attracted to women, thank you very much. Besides, I'm pretty sure that even gay people have their favorite football teams.
I just don't find football exciting. (Breathe, it'll be okay). The times I have attended football games were not to watch the game but engage with friends. I also really could care less about baseball, basketball and soccer. All this leaves me without a favorite team and I'll be honest that I have suffered through many explanations of the game but remained content to hold a rudimentary understanding of how the game works.
Since the game doesn't interest me, you may understand why I am puzzled at the frenzy of football fans. I am more than amused at how a touchdown made in an arena on the opposite side of the country can illicit whoops and hollers in a living room or pub in Stanislaus County, as if anyone in room had anything to do with moving that piece of pigskin from one end of the field to the other. I suppose if you went to school with Colin Kaepernick or are related to him I'd understand the excitement. But I've never understood, other than geographical significance, how anyone picks a favorite team in the first place and follows it as a true religion.
And come on, men, football is not a legitimate reason to avoid relating to family or shirking household responsibilities. In the time I could spend watching football, I could do a gamut of productive chores around the house - such as raking leaves - and not only keeps my butt off the couch but improves my health and my property.
Some, no doubt, feel that football equals manhood, as if a lack of interest in football means your manhood is automatically suspect. The same holds true if you don't partake of other fast-held traditions of manhood. As one who is comfortable in my maleness, I am also here to tell you that I've never hunted and the last time I went fishing was when I was 12 or 13. And I take umbrage to the "hot sauce puts hair on your chest" crowd for I have no hair growing on my chest nor can I grow decent facial hair to save my soul but I can work on car brakes or change a flat tire and I'm "man enough" and brave enough to change my grandson's diaper without losing my last meal. While I built half of my own house by my hands and personally reroofed the same last May, I'm not afraid to shed tears during an emotional movie either. I don't feel the need to get drunk, fight anyone or kick the dog to feel like a man but I do work out to stay fit without the quest to be the size of the Incredible Hulk either.
Besides, I'm less of a sport spectator in preference of running, an occasional game of tennis and I'm fond of camping, water sports and backpacking.
No, I don't need football to feel like a man. Give me any touchy feely conversation any day at a family gathering over football. No wonder I've heard women say that the pool of qualified mates is poor because men - younger men in particular - "just don't get it." They really don't. They don't understand that maleness is about being responsible, being able to relate well to the opposite sex without being overbearing, to be able to show affection, to put one's needs behind the needs of others, finding resolution through words rather than fists, and be courteous to hold the door open for women. There is nothing manly about bullying any one, let alone smacking women and children around.
No, I say football as a spectator sport is hardly the definitive trademark of maleness.
Disagree with me if you wish, but I believe there's way too much importance placed on football and a lot of things in life suffer in the process. Some people can recite facts about their teams and players and analyze sports forward and backward. There is hardly the same interest in what this country's leaders are doing to this country or what their kids are learning in school. Am I supposed to be impressed at the recitation of facts about players while the same cannot tell you what Congress will be wrestling with next month? Or have they spent time with the ones they love and know what's on their hearts?
I'm a "live and let live" guy so I understand that millions enjoy their football. I'm cool with that. Life is about some enjoyment. But keep in mind that it's only a game and was never meant to become life itself.
How do you feel? Let Jeff know at firstname.lastname@example.org