Football, though at times confounding, is fun!

Last year, one of my dearest friends was expecting a baby with a due date around Super Bowl XLVII. Though I have friends with kids, this was the first friend-pregnancy that would earn me an honorary “auntie” label. Upon hearing the news in the summer of the Expected Peanut, I jumped up and down with excitement – I knew that motherhood was important to her, and I knew she’d make a great mom. Plus, I could revel in all the joys that come with being around babies (I can’t help but make funny faces for babies!), without any of the accompanying diaper duty or responsibility for managing meltdowns. (I’m sure my turn may come some day.)

Now, one thing you need to understand is that this Peanut was being born to football fans, and was due very close to a rather revered day celebrated with good food and probable-good times for many football fans. Some of you may know this day as the Superbowl. Perhaps blood-pressures may skyrocket for fans of two teams, but everyone else gets to simply enjoy the game.

Another thing you need to understand is that the only “football” that was ever watched in my half-British house growing up was the kind most of you may call “soccer” (Liverpool FC, for life!). As a result, American football often seemed inaccessible to me as an adult, and I didn’t understand why a game that was slated to run for four 15-minute quarters could take a whole afternoon. (I may never get that, though I’m sure all the advertisers and beer and snack companies have something to do with it.)

So to me, I saw that I had some serious responsibilities as a soon-to-be-friend-auntie: I was going to need to learn a thing or two about football.

I did what many an anthropologist may do, and decided to look around for some opportunities to study: “What it means to be a woman who enjoys/gets/understands football.” It just so happened that two women I admired in my various social circles were down-and-out football fans, and happy to pull back the curtain. I soon finagled invitations to join them at their homes or favorite viewing locations to learn a little more about the sport.

From one, (a through-and-through Seahawks fan), I learned about the superstitions, and the importance of wearing the same outfit every game if it seemed to result in the Seahawks playing well, or standing in a particular place (“Behind the chair! Behind the chair, now!”) if her beloved team needed some more encouragement. This did not really help my understanding of the game, but I do feel I am owed some credit for how far they got last year, due to the sense of urgency I brought to moving like a pawn around the living room. Surely if I’d been watching with this friend on the last game day of the Seahawks’ season last year, we would have claimed the opportunity to head into the Super Bowl in 2013 (I’m sorry I let you down, Seattle. We cool, now?).

My other friend (a Patriots and 49ers fan), though also superstitious in her own ways, was able to better explain the plays, and helped me understand that there was a deeper strategy behind the game. I was allowed to sit however was comfortable in our booth at the Spitfire, as perhaps being a student in the ways of the pigskin, and not emotionally invested in the outcomes, my viewing position did not impact her teams’ performances. She even allowed me to knit during the games! (not allowed with the other fan).

I did find last year’s season intriguing – though I may not understand every play, I can appreciate the sheer athleticism that comes with tearing down tens of yards of grass, dodging terrifyingly bulky men doing their best to turn you into a pancake they’ll eat as recovery food. Not to mention appreciating the guy who can kick that weird oblong ball and have it go precisely where he wants it, high in the air between two posts, 40-odd yards away. Though I can run, I’d probably get taken out after three steps. And if you put a ball directly in front of my foot, there’s only a 20% chance I can actually make contact, and an even less likely chance that a ball kicked by yours truly will end up in a vicinity of any help to the rest of my team (hence my awe when ball-foot contact happens for anybody).

Anyway, I also understand the importance of being there for your teammates, a.k.a. BFFs, which is why I invited myself over to my expectant-friends’ house for the Super Bowl. I knew they weren’t going to host a party, but I had a sense that I wanted to be in the same location as them, and casually managed to mention that I wasn’t sure what my Super Bowl plans were, and it was sure a shame that I did not have a TV as I was enjoying watching the games, until they picked up what I was throwing down and asked if I wanted to join at their house.

Which brings us to a year ago today. We laughed and chatted and snacked until, sure enough, the little guy decided that a Super Bowl party sounded fun, and maybe he would begin his journey away from the womb (even if he ended up arriving a day late to the party). Once again, I found myself jumping up and down in excitement, though this time while they were grabbing their hospital bags. I offered to stay and text Super Bowl updates to Dad, take care of the pets, and put away all the food. I may not be good at understanding what each position on a football team does, but I am good at understanding that it sure is nice to have a tidy kitchen and relieved pets when coming home with a little Peanut.

So, this is written without knowing what the outcome will be [updated: YEAH, SEAHAWKS WIN!], and I am loathe to make any predictions as I understand that this game may be riding on me if I do *anything* that may impact either side’s successes throughout the game. But I am also writing this knowing that on Super Bowl Sunday, I’ll be smiling at the memory of what will be hands down my favorite Super Bowl Sunday for the rest of my life – the day Peanut decided that he liked the sounds of a football party, and I’m glad that his first Super Bowl the Seahawks are undoubtedly playing [updated: and winning!] for him.

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Postscript: Though I knew little about football at last year’s party, this year’s I was surprised to understand more! It helped that I was thrilled to know who the players are, and generally got caught up in the spirited excitement that swept through Seattle. Still can’t help but feel that they were out there winning for the 12th man who is marking his 12 month on this planet – Happy (almost!) birthday, Peanut!

Sasha Kemble

Sasha may be the shyest social person you’ll ever meet. She joined Verity in 2009, with a couple years in the Credit Union Movement already tucked under her belt (amidst coffee-making and bagel-slinging, running a non-profit, and trying her hand at farming). 

An eternal optimist (except, you know, when she’s not), she enjoys exploring her surroundings and having adventures with friends; yoga, running, reading, writing, and good food. Though not a remarkable cook, she is nonetheless a sincere one and admits she’d be better if there were three more hours in every day. When not doing one of the many activities mentioned in the previous two sentences, she counts herself lucky to be peacefully at home, cuddling with her partner and their cat.

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