Learning about football requires all the right stuff

October 11, 2011

Are you ready for some football? That phrase is about the extent of my knowledge of the game. Well, maybe the other one, which I hear a lot of announcers and players say after a real goof-up, is, “Come on, man!”

I know it is that time of the year when the intricacies of the complex game of football will reveal the precise knowledge and steps you will need for a complete understanding of this American pastime, namely a flat-screen television the size of an aircraft carrier and the vision of seemingly normal men with their face and bodies painted, waving Styrofoam fingers in front of a television camera. Throw in a large bowl of any kind of snack with over 10,000 calories, and you are good to go.

That’s professional football at its best. I know even less about college football. Recently, though, I attended the very prestigious Navy-Air Force game in Annapolis. I love the academies with all their traditions and rituals, so I figured this would be a great time to really learn the game. Now, the hardest part of studying the game of football, professional or collegiate, is where to find your seat.

You see, you have these ticket stubs that have your assigned seat in tiny little codes on the bottom. For instance, you might be in Section A, Row 15, Seat 10. Sounds simple, but in fact there are about 40 Section As and around 1,000 rows with the number 15 stamped on them, and even if you figure that all out, the seats only go up to number 9. There is no 8 and there is no 11.

This quest turns out to be like some guy in the desert hauling a camel around and looking for water. I go from one usher to another, back and forth, begging for just a drop.

Finally I found one of those guys wearing a badge because I really hate having people yell, “Down in front!!” or in a Jerry Lewis plea, “Hey, Lady!!!”

“Oh, yeah,” he told me. “That would be all the way around the stadium, on the other side and about 100 rows down at the bottom. I think you will have to reset your watch, though, because it is probably another time zone.”

And so I set out again, thirsty, tired, unwanted, hungry and homeless. Sorry, that was the couple in front of me looking for their seats. Occasionally, I have to hit the ground, or cement if you wish. They shoot off a lot of cannons and such at these games; you know, lots of traditions. It’s just that I’m not used to the sound of heavy artillery in the background, at least not on a day-to-day basis. So down and down I go and miraculously find the right spot. I’m right behind the players’ bench where I can root and holler and get to know the team I am supporting. The only difficult thing is that it is the opposing team’s bench.

The other odd thing about this seating is that somehow your bladder knows you’ve had a long, arduous trek. Mr. Bladder senses that in order for you to get up and climb those steps to the rest room, you will need a helicopter with a rescue basket to lift you off that perch. There was a reason there was a Depends booth next to the food stand. For a few bucks, you could have been spared.

There are lots of parades of midshipmen in these academy games, plenty of music and planes flying over sounding like “The Right Stuff.” Oh, yeah, there was the opening kickoff, the opening drive and the opening score. That’s all I was told. It was difficult to see the actual field. But at least I got to yell, “Down in front,” even if it was to some sort of birdlike mascot. Come on, man!

  • Nancy Katz has a degree in creative writing and is the author of the book, "Notes from the Beach." She has written the column Around Town for the Cape Gazette for twenty years. Her style is satirical and deals with all aspects of living in a resort area on Delmarva.

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