Friday, December 11, 2009

"What do you mean you don't like football??"

Fair warning: If you spend most of your Sundays right now unable to do anything other than sit in front of a TV for 3-7 hours, you're probably not going to like what I have to say. But I hope you'll read it anyway to help give you an understanding of "the other side."

I was pretty much destined to be a nerd from birth. I inherited lots of book smarts and my very small stature from both my parents. Athleticism just wasn't in the cards for me. Despite this, for whatever reason when I was young my grandmother absolutely insisted that my brother and I play some kind of sport, and it ended up being soccer. I spent most of the time running behind everyone else to at least have the illusion of participation, all the while scared to death that I was going to have to hit the ball with my head the way they do on TV. That ball was hard and it would hurt. As you can guess, I only did this for one season.

In elementary school, we seemed to play more kickball than anything else. I spent most of this time doing my best to kick the ball as far as I could, being yelled at by the boys on my team for not knowing when to run or stay, and being insulted when everyone from the opposing team came up really close whenever it was my turn to kick. We also occasionally played volleyball, and the first time I tried to hit the ball my wrists and palms stung so bad that I basically did my best to move out of the way and let my teammates hit the ball, and let's just not even talk about when it was my turn to serve. In high school I had repeats of both soccer and volleyball, until junior year when we got to pick what sports we wanted to participate in. I chose walking and aerobics, and did the same for senior year too.

In terms of spectator sports, I really tried. I was a daddy's girl, and my dad loved football. I remember asking him to explain the game to me and telling me what all the terms meant. I remember he, my brother and I all playing a mini game in our yard one year. My memory tells me I actually attempted to get into the game twice in two different years of my life, spread out from each other. But I just couldn't do it and I think after the one time my dad accidentally smacked me in the leg in his excitement after a successful play, my enthusiasm waned and the game was just so boring to me.

Here's my interpretation of football: A bunch of guys line up in a formation. One passes the ball to another, and he runs for a few yards before being tackled to the ground. Everything stops while the referees review everything. They continue this cycle for awhile, sometimes changing sides, until miraculously someone manages to get near the goal line, in which case they try to run one more time, or they send in the little guy to kick the ball instead. Also, there's like TEN MILLION time outs that slow everything down even more because apparently the game isn't moving slow enough already for the coaches and they have to stop and think about it for awhile.

I went to a hockey game once and I enjoyed the constant movement of the game.. until they had to stop everything for like 20 minutes because a guy fell and they were afraid he had broken his neck. I might enjoy basketball for similar reasons, but I'm just not motivated enough to sit down and watch a game to find out. Baseball moves even slower than football, and even if it didn't, OMG the announcers. My memories of going to a Zephyrs game are all about the announcer and the goofy ads they made him keep repeating, and nothing about the game itself.

Living here in the New Orleans area, football is the only sport that seems to matter to people. Oh, you'll find some who enjoy going to a Hornets game, for sure, but the masses are all about football. This year especially, because the Saints are actually winning. Can't help but wonder if this has to do with the deal Benson made and that he's been ordering them to suck all this time before hand. After that Patriots win in the superbowl post 9/11, I'm pretty much convinced all football is rigged. But that's a whole other topic.

Right about now, you can't go anywhere in the city without black and gold, a fleur de lis, "WHO DAT," or some other sign of "Saints pride" smacking you in the face. Jefferson Parish (the suburb outside N.O.) has canceled Family Gras, their family oriented Mardi Gras celebration with bands and food as well as parades, because they honestly are already convinced that the Saints are going to be in the Superbowl that weekend. Facebook on Sundays is nothing but people either saying "Geaux Saints!", "XX-0 Baby!", or people recycling lame Christmas song rewordings about how they're going to win. And then once the game starts, they seem to think its ok to use their status to make comments about the game. A hint folks: those of us who actually understand how to use the internet know that there are things called "chat rooms" and "forums" that you use to discuss a particular topic in real time with other like minded people. I check facebook to see what's going on in the lives of the people I care about; if I gave a rat's ass about what's happening in football, I'd watch the game.

But you know what? The fact that I don't like football and other people do is not the problem. Lots of people like American Idol and The Bachelor, and I have major objections to both shows and what they stand for, but you don't see me griping about either of them. Because no one gets in MY face about not liking them.

You see the subject of this post? Do you know how many times I've heard that phrased, either exact or slightly paraphrased? You wanna know what else I've heard throughout my life?

"You read comic books? Aren't those for little kids?"

"Harry Potter is for nerds, I don't read that stuff."

"OMG, I can't believe people are dressing up in costumes and going to a movie premiere, what a bunch of freaks."

"Coworker A & B were making fun of you because you watch anime."

"You have a bunch of toys in your room?"

"No one cares about that stuff. Why do you know that much about a cartoon?"

And so on. You get the idea.

I once got tears in my eyes while reading a comic book because Professor X was talking about giving up his dream. I made it a point to wear my Harry Potter shirt when I went to see the Half Blood Prince. I once watched all three extended versions of the Lord of the Rings in the span of one week in the evenings after coming home from work. I do not like being disturbed when I watch Lost, because I don't want to miss a single detail. I threw my hands up in the air at the end of X2 when the Phoenix bird appeared in the water and then got immensely pissed when they totally misrepresented her in X3. I was giddy as a schoolgirl watching the recent Wolverine and the X-men version of the same storyline. I love both Final Fantasy and Metal Gear Solid games for the stories, and don't really care about any weaknesses in the game play. I'm really excited to see the Princess and the Frog this weekend because it will be a chance to celebrate my home town and my love of 2D animation. I think muppet Yoda will always be better than CGI Yoda, even if the latter one gets to move and fight.

I am a geek. I'm proud of it. I've been treated as "weird" for it for most of my life, but I'm not gonna change myself just to please others. I like what I like, I like what I am. I have found others, thanks to the internet I've found many more than I ever would locally, who like similar things and we rejoice in these things together and debate and discuss and have so much fun, I don't really see any need to conform to please anyone.

The fact of the matter is, my devotion to all of my interests are absolutely no different than the masses' devotion to football. That excitement you feel when they run across the field and make the touchdown? I get that when the Batman lands a good solid punch in the Joker's face. That pride you feel when your team is winning? It's the same pride I feel when I walked out the new Star Trek movie knowing they had treated the franchise right. And I feel the same disappointment you do when they lose when R.A. Salvatore stopped caring about his characters and is obviously just putting out books to make more money or fulfill his contract.

So why am I the weirdo? Yes, I get ridiculously excited about works of fiction, but you get ridiculously excited about a bunch of meatheads throwing a ball around. You will let it ruin your whole Sunday when they lose, and you will fill up your entire Monday bragging when they win. You spend ridiculous amounts of time during draft season discussing things that don't make a difference to your life at all. You wear certain colors and perform certain rituals because you believe they will give good luck to your team. It's just as preposterous when brought down to brass tacks, and yours isn't any more acceptable and ok just because a bunch of other people agree with you.

At least I'm pretty much guaranteed that my heroes are always going to win in the end. ;)

So can we please just agree to like other things in peace????
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