Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Now I Like Football. WHY???

LSU/Alabama Game
Everyone knows I have NEVER liked football. Mostly because my Dad made our whole family miserable as he simultaneously watched on TV and listened on the radio to EVERY football game he could get near.  Sometimes he had 2 TV's stacked on top of each other watching 2 different games, then listening to another one on the radio, while his guests went unnoticed.  When you picked him up at the airport for a rare family visit, or he met you at the airport, all he wanted was to get to a TV screen.  Couldn't even say Hello first.  And, he'd get irate and grumble if anyone talked or blocked the screen so he missed a play, or, if he appeared to be sleeping and Mom turned the volume down.  It never ended.  There was always another game.  If not football, then baseball, as though he were playing the games himself.  All of which scared me silly as a girl, and disgusted me as an adult. While his 3 boys were in college over a 10 year span, Dad had season tickets to all the home Tulane and LSU football games.  We would drive the 200 miles round trip from Slidell nearly every weekend to attend the games.  I sat with him and Mom in the stands, often surrounded by drunken, screaming louts, and Dad yelling at them to "si-down".  By the time I went to LSU, he and Mom had mercifully moved to Florida.

It was not a festive atmosphere, so as soon as I could get away from that oppression, I did.  My student ticket went un-used. I never tailgated, never married nor ever dated, nor ever even hung out with any friends or acquaintances who were football fanatics.  To this day, I steer clear of sports fanatics.

HOWEVER, now that I'm trying to develop a few piddlin' skills as a dog agility handler - like running for a minute without panting, executing front crosses without twisting an ankle, trying to commit handling moves to muscle memory, not lose my focus at every distraction, pick up my feet when I sprint, put a little speed on when I run, I've come to notice, to appreciate how the players can twist and turn and stay in an explosive game for 2 hours without collapsing, how they seem to know where the ball is and which direction to run in amidst the blur of human flesh, how they fling themselves through space with 100% resolve, arms and legs flailing, land with a horrific thud, and get right back up like an inflated punching doll.  How 6 giants can pile on top of a 7th one, and he doesn't come out flat as a pancake with 12 broken bones.

How do they do that?  It's begun to intrigue me.  Besides innate talent, testosterone, macho, and team pride, it's clear to me now that there's a whole, whole, whole bunch of training going on, as in this video of the daily training schedule posted in the LSU Atheletic Department's website.  Agility students will recognize the laddar.  Yes, our novice dogs do laddar training for "rear leg awareness", but our handlers don't!  We barely address the moves required of our "handling skills", certainly never by rote like football players do, much less "handler fitness".  We don't even warm up before our runs.

It's inspires me to contemplate that football players can't play at all, much less win, without constant training.  I have begun to marvel at their dedication. And then, there's the development of their mental game, learning to adjust instantaneously to constantly changing scenarios, rude jeers and taunting, without getting disoriented or shook up.  I take heart that these skills can all be learned.  It's marvelous, really.

LSU intersepts Alabama's
ball on the 1 yard line.
With my new-found perspective, I'm beginning to enjoy watching football, especially with friends, especially the "great plays" like this one at last weekend's LSU/Alabama game.  Whew, that was something!  I'm not to the point of insanity.  I don't stoop to rudeness (though I might choose not to attend a party at a home without a large HD TV).  I don't care that much who wins (except for LSU), so long as the uniforms are attractive, the cameras catch great video and show lots of instant replays.  I won't be bringing my wireless to an agility trial and listen to a game in between all my runs, nor cruize the arena looking for anybody who knows the current score, like some agility competitors do.  But I've begun to appreciate a good game once in awhile, and especially a spectacular play, even if the people around me are gasping and screeching, cussing the coaches, referree's or players, and in some cases, all blotch faced and crying.

I've also come to realize that football fanatacism is a prevelant disease -- so I've more or less forgiven my Dad for his addiction.  Why, Naylors Hardware practically threw me out last Saturday at 4 p.m. as I was choosing my lettuce plants.  They were closing 2 hours early for the game.

Yes, I've come a long way. And that's another Upwards and Onward for me.


No comments: