Friday nights in the fall, I’m dressed up in a tutu and face paint, standing on the bleachers at a high school field in Raleigh. Saturday afternoons, you’ll find me cheering on a local college team from their stadium or a sports bar. Sundays at 1, I’m on my couch, decked out in my jersey and matching hat to watch the NFL games.
Autumn and winter weekends are always filled with football, and I truly can’t remember a time where my life wasn’t like this.
There are pictures of me from age two, maybe three, in a Cleveland Browns onesie and helmet. I own at least 15 different UNC Chapel Hill T-shirts, and I have costumes for every Leesville football game theme. Saying that I go all out for my teams is an understatement. I monitor statistics, educate myself about individual players, and watch the games every weekend. I love football and growing up watching the sport has taught me many important life lessons.
Being loyal to a team is the number one most vital lesson I’ve learned from being raised in a family crazy about football. High school and college football are not as applicable in this case when professional teams come more into play. From birth, I’ve supported and cheered for the Cleveland Browns. In the past three years (2016-2018), the Browns have the following record: 1-15, 0-16, and 7-8. Arguably, they have been the worst team in the NFL for years. As the butt of almost every single football joke, I know what it’s like to cheer for a team that gets all of the pity. Fortunately, the hate has taught me how to be truly loyal. Even though my team may suck for many more years, I know that I have to be supportive and continue to watch them every year. Loyalty is so important in sports, as gaining the reputation of a bandwagon makes people seem as though they don’t understand the sport or they can’t be loyal.
In an all-male sport, talking about feminism seems really odd. However, football has shown me that girls can be into sports, too. A time-old stigma based on gender roles has taught our society that women should not find interest in sports and oftentimes don’t know anything about them. In our changing and rather progressive society, more and more women have started to work in the NFL, whether it be media communications or analytics or broadcasting. For myself, I plan to major in media communications and work with NFL teams to help better market and promote their organization. Women are vastly underrepresented in the sports department, yet people like Amy Trask have led me to understand that I do have potential in my future. As the first female CEO of a football team, Trask led the Raiders to many seasons of success, staying with the team from 1997 until 2013. Other women, like the first female coach and first female referee, have also paved the way for younger women like me to make a big impact in the industry. Plus, it’s nice to impress the ignorant and unexpecting men with my extensive knowledge of the NFL.
Playing tennis and golf competitively as a child, I developed a sense of good sportsmanship and how to work with a team. Football, on the other hand, has developed that sense to the fullest extent and helped me understand how to be fair and where my morals lay. Football gets competitive, and I can’t say that I haven’t blocked a hater or two on social media. When it comes down to it, though, all sports are games. Yes, they do create thousands of jobs and opportunities for the people of our country. Football shouldn’t be boiled down to “just a game”, but I’ve learned a certain level of respect to maintain with others even when we disagree. At the end of the day, people created football for entertainment and enjoyment. Football brings joy to some, and unfortunately sadness to others, but nonetheless has taught me how to be a good sport no matter the outcome of a game.
Football has become a major pillar of my life. Without the sport, I would be on a completely different career path. Football has taught me how to be strong while also illustrating that sometimes it’s okay to lose. Football has brought my family together for the past 16 years and this trend will continue hopefully for the rest of my life. A tale as old as time, football is my passion, my happiness, and my love. Football is my thing.