Flag(pole) Football

Eep- I can’t wait for football to start again! Made some tiny fan portraits at this week’s drawing club:It’s crazy to think that until kinda recently, my opinion of football landed between indifference and dislike. And it’s not because I didn’t grow up with it: I was adopted into an exceptionally athletic family of football fans and players; I filmed Stony Brook University’s home games for college TV; my British husband rooted for the Seahawks before they were champs (to be fair, he follows ALL the sports). Plus, I’ve distractedly watched a bunch of Super Bowls. I’m just a non-sporty weirdo who had to come around to football in my own time. (And for the record, I don’t think it’s without serious issues. It’s one of several problematic things I’m a fan of… like Lars von Trier movies or shopping on Amazon… but it’s also a great game.)

So last year, I joined the Flagpole Fantasy Football league and it was like “bloaw!” Practically out of nowhere, I got really into the NFL. At first, I didn’t have a firm grasp on the rules of the game (like, football itself but also fantasy sports) and totally bombed the draft. Yahoo gave my picks a D-, ranked me dead last, and predicted I’d only win one match. I picked Aaron Rodgers first because he was the only available player I’d heard of, then muddled through the rest with a list I’d compiled of players who looked friendly, hadn’t been charged with anything horrific, and weren’t Washington Redskins. It didn’t look promising but then I won my first match! I was at work on a quiet night, refreshing my phone 10000000x to see what was going on (answer: Carlos Hyde, tearing it up!). Every week, I was sure I was going to lose but I ended up winning the next 7 games, beating every team in the league once. The third week in, I was distracted by an IKEA breakfast and didn’t realize until kickoff that despite being on my team DeMarco Murray wouldn’t be playing. I stopped in the middle of the store to curse the football gods but, amazingly, I still won! The nerd-rush that hit after my odds-crushing streak was nuts. In the end, I lost reeeally bad in the playoffs but I was so invested by that point, it was ok. LOL LOL LOL, Yahoo!

And truly, football’s appeal goes beyond the thrill of winning. I used to think it was boring (??) but now I see it’s like a giant, brutal chess game. Way more exciting and interesting than I’d thought. Second, fantasy football taps into my love of superstition. Carlos Hyde was injured early in the season but I kept him in every possible lineup as good luck. Conversely, I blamed my losing streak at the end on DeMarco Murray who was a “can’t cut” player even though he was abysmal with the Eagles. Finally, I became a fan of specific players. My favorite right now is RB Doug Martin. Apparently, he hates the nick-name “The Muscle Hamster” but, c’mon, that’s adorable. Also, Tampa Bay runs a lot so he’s got plenty of opportunities to shine. This is my second drawing of him- I mailed the first to One Buccaneer Place (my second fan letter ever). Devonta Freeman was one of my last draft picks which was stupidly lucky cuz he ended up being a superstar. So impressive and unstoppable that I realized- yeah, the Falcons are pretty cool. Finally, phew! It turns out, Aaron Rodgers is famous cuz he’s a solid QB. Even on a bad week, when he’s running for his life and nothing’s going right, you can tell he’s awesome. Haha. Now I know… Anyway, it’s highly doubtful I’ll be half as lucky this year but I’m getting super psyched in the pre-season. Life is funny and I guess I love football now!

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8 thoughts on “Flag(pole) Football

  1. I didn’t grow up in a football family. We watched baseball. The Braves were so horrible in those days that they were usually mathematically eliminated from the play-offs by the All Star break.

    I loved the idea of football, but didn’t figure it out until Channel 5 (WAGA-TV, Atlanta) started airing “Notre Dame Highlights” on Sunday mornings. It was a thirty-minute show detailing the previous day’s performance by the Fighting Irish. The explanations of strategy and goals was great and I became a fan.

    You compare it to chess, and I agree. I love the strategy. You’ll have to walk me through fantasy football sometimes because I’ve always thought I would enjoy it, but wouldn’t have the patience to learn how to do it.

    • I love your stories. And the statistics aspect of sports is definitely part of the appeal. I’ve yet to get into baseball but might give try to catch a game next year. At a minimum, I enjoy drinking outside before dinner and I hear that’s a thing that goes with watching baseball.

  2. There is quite literally nothing I find more tedious than football, (soccer, to you) making me an oddity in football-mad England. As for that weird game y’all play over there; the idea that anyone could find that entertaining is completely beyond me.
    When Rhonda moved over here a couple of years ago, she insisted we stay up and watch the Superbowl (the Seahawks were her team and they made the finals two years running, so I’m told) so I dutifully took the following day off work so I could stay up with her and experience the whole spectacle for the first time. (Isn’t love a wonderful thing?)
    The incentive, for me anyway, was the promise of the traditional “Superbowl feast” which featured all sorts of tasty treats; homemade fried chicken, potato skins, tacos, etc, so I took full advantage of that.
    When it came to the game, however, I’d lost the will to live after half an hour of playing had resulted in the game moving about ten yards up the pitch (field?) because play stopped every thirty seconds for no adequately explained reason.
    Then I noticed (at about one o’clock in the morning) that my allegedly dedicated football fan of a wife was snoring gently on the couch next to me and I was the only one still awake.

    So much for the thrill of The Game.

    • Haha! Can’t fault your feelings. It’s weird that I can love any sport, let alone an overly macho one. Ugh, so good! Super cool that Rhonda’s team is the Seahawks. Even if you don’t care for the game- it’s pretty cool that their Quarterback is an LGBT ally.

  3. I love your drawings (as always), Steph! Congrats on your new fandom. I’ve never understood football (or most sports) but sometimes wish I had team to root for and follow.

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