Feb 7, 2016

How to Survive a Football Game

No matter how you guard against it, if you live in the United States, sooner or later you will be forced to watch a football game.

It's a national obsession, especially among heterosexual men.  It's all they think of from August through February, and they believe that it's all you think of, too.  So you will be interrogated on favorite teams, favorite players, favorite plays, asked how the game went last night, and invited to watch.

Of course, there are reasons you may want to hang out with guys who watch football.  They tend to be more muscular than your run-of-the-mill straight guy, and they like hugging and grabbing each other at every point.

The snacks are good, too.

If you go to or watch all of the available football games played from August to February, you will devote 12 hours a day, every day, to The Game.  No one can do all of that, so straight guys usually confine themselves to one game per day, and read the newspaper or watch ESPN to find out the other scores, so they can discuss them incessantly with their friends.

1. Professional football is played by members of the NFL (National Football League), which is divided into two conference of 16 teams each.  Each team will play 24 games during the season, plus a playoff to decide who is best in each conference.

That's a lot of games, but don't despair. You just need to memorize who won in the last few games played by teams from cities in your state (or, to be on the safe side, adjoining states).  Unfortunately, the two conferences aren't divided by geography, so you'll just have to scan to find them.

For instance, when I lived in Dayton, masquerading as heterosexual only required me to know about the Cincinnati Bengals, the Cleveland Browns, and maybe, to be on the safe side, the Indianapolis Colts.  Now I live on the Plains, so all I have to know about are the Minnesota Vikings, and to be on the safe side, the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears.

Memorize the names of the some of main players -- called quarterbacks -- so you can ask "How did ___ do last night?"  For the Minnesota Vikings, that's Teddy Bridgewater and Christian Pounder.

The Superbowl, in January or February, is the big event of the year, with the best teams of the two conferences squaring off.  You should know who won for the last five years: Seattle Seahawks, Baltimore Ravens, New York Giants, Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints.

2. You should also know something about college football.  Colleges are divided into four Divisions by the National College Athletic Association (NCAA).  You only have to know about Division 1, the 128 biggest colleges, which is divided into 11 Conferences.  Unfortunately, they're not divided by geography, either, so figure out the ones that are closest to you (in Minnesota, the Golden Gophers).

You also might want to know about the Big Ten, which actually has 15 members: Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Michigan State, Minnesota, and so on.

Be careful around Christmastime: that's when the various conferences decide which team is better at "bowl" tournaments, and there are dozens of them, most with silly commercial names: The Hyundai Sun Bowl, the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, the Chick-fil-a Peach Bowl, etc.

Straight guys will be following all of them, but the only you really need to know about is the Rose Bowl (January 1st), in which the Big Ten and the Pacific-12 conferences pair off.

3. If you're ready for the advanced stuff, try showing off your knowledge of high school football!  They are divided up into divisions and ranks, too.

Rock Island High School, my alma mater, is nationally ranked at 7120 and state ranked at 217.  It's in the Western Big Six.

Do you have a headache yet?

Think of it this way: all of the statistics, rankings, divisions, and conferences boil down to a group of extremely muscular men piling up on each other, grabbing each other's butts, adjusting their crotches, and then getting naked in the locker room.

Almost makes it all worthwhile.

See also: Hating Sports.