[on football]

A funny thing has happened since I moved home.

When I was living on my own, I professed to love football.

In reality, I only loved the sound of football. The game itself remained a mystery that I wasn’t interesting in solving.

Growing up with two football loving parents meant that our house was always filled with the sounds of the gridiron on Sundays and Mondays. Ever since, the very sound of a football game has transported me back to my parents’ family room.

When I was in Italy I hit the point that every semester-long study abroader reaches: that moment when the fun wears off and you realize just how far away from home you are and just how long you’re going to be there. For me that moment came over something insiginificant: the facts that the buses didn’t really run on a schedule in Rome. For whatever reason, this little thing sent me over the edge and I wanted to go home so badly it made my heart physically hurt. But I was stuck. I still had two months until I boarded my flight home. When I got home I immediately reached for my laptop, went to YouTube, and pulled up an old football game. I had no idea what was going on and I was hardly watching the game but the sound soothed me and made me feel like everything was going to be okay.

The same pattern continued until this fall: I would turn on games in moments of overwhelming homesickness or when I felt like I should be watching. But for the most part I wouldn’t watch football by choice.

This fall everything changed. Saturday through Monday was non-stop football. At first I put it on to appease Mom, as a sort of concession for my living there. I would sit with her and play on my Kindle Fire or laptop and pay no mind to the game. Then one day I actually paid attention. I started asking questions. What are they doing? Why are they doing it? Why was that call made? What does that mean?

Soon I began paying more attention to each and every game. I was determined to understand football. From there it was a short hop, skip, and jump to leaving the devices upstairs and actually paying attention to entire games, even if I wasn’t interested in either team.

Things kept progressing though and soon I was hooked. I loved football. I loved the sound, I loved the game, I loved all of it. I began voluntarily turning on games because I wanted to watch them. Sure there are still days when I would rather watch something else, say if all the games are bad and the teams aren’t that exciting. But for the most part I chose football games over other TV choices. This year I will genuinely be sad when the season ends.

At the end of the day, living at home has had its advantages: it’s taught me to love football. I’m no longer a fraud pretending to be interested.

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