7 Things I Learned at a Football Game

Last Sunday, I went to my second Buffalo Bills game and third NFL game ever. I drank beer, learned more about the game, and was reminded of some very good life advice. And now I will share that with you:

Last minute tickets are the best! My sister and I bought tickets weeks before the game. Fast forward to Sunday morning and we’re dressed in extra layers (It’s the Bills…you have to be ready for snow!), our cooler is packed with beer, and we just need to print the tickets and hit the road. And that’s when we realize my sister bought tickets are for the wrong game. So we quickly jump on StubHub to see if we can get last minute tickets for the right game (and sell the other ones). And what do we find? FIFTH ROW BEHIND THE BILLS BENCH for the same price as the tickets we thought we’d bought for a higher section! Sometimes it pays to make a mistake and/or do something at the last minute!

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This girl…great at taking Instagram photos, terrible at buying tickets for the game!

Football is a lot like little kids’ soccer. I don’t really understand the rules of football. I thought there were only 4 downs total in a quarter. Turns out that’s not how downs work. Who knew? But what I do know about football is that it’s very similar to watching five-year-olds play soccer. Because wherever the ball is, that’s where everybody clumps together. It’s difficult to tell what position any one person is playing. Except maybe the quarterback. The quarterback is that one five-year-old that was clearly born to play soccer and plays the position he was assigned while the other kids just chase the ball in one big mob.

The left tackle protects the quarterback’s blind side. Okay…I didn’t exactly learn this at the game. And if you immediately say “Only if the quarterback is right handed.” when I tell you this, you can guarantee that I will return that comment with “DO NOT RUIN MY ONE FACT!”

Almost nothing happens…but when it does, it’s really exciting. Seriously. An awful lot of work goes into moving the ball like 2 yards per play. Maybe when you watch better teams (it pains me to say “better teams” because I grew up in the 90s thinking that the Bills always played in the Super Bowl) more happens with each play? Not sure. But I will say that for the second touchdown in the game, they rushed the ball 75 yards in one play. AND THAT WAS AWESOME TO WATCH! It (sort of) made up for all of the really boring downs where they barely moved the ball.

Football is really dangerous. When I’m watching football, I tend to do a lot of gasping. I am constantly worried about people getting hit at weird angles. It’s possible I don’t really have the stomach for this sport. Which is weird because I love hockey and have been known to scream “HIT HIM!” during exciting plays. But for some reason football just feels more dangerous. I mean, the first words of the movie The Blind Side (side note: the book is also really good if you haven’t read it!) are “From the snap of the ball to the snap of the first bone is closer to four seconds than five.” And when I repeated this to my sister at the game, she said “Dude, that movie isn’t THAT good.”

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Sports are fun because of the camaraderie with strangers…though I do wish we showed more sportsmanship to fans of the other team. Still, I love the way everyone feels like a friend at the game. I love high-fiving strangers and the group cheers. I love feeling like we’re all invested in a common goal. It would be really awesome if we could continue that camaraderie with strangers when we’re just going about our daily lives. Maybe the next time someone cuts right in front of me and shoves into the last spot on a crowded subway train even though I’ve been waiting longer, I will just high-five them. Because we’re all on the same team and if he gets to work on time that’s good for me, too? Hmm…it’s possible I haven’t quite puzzled out how this life advice works yet.

Kids are the best at cheering! As per usual, we could all learn A LOT from kids. When LeSean McCoy (who I gather is one of the more popular Bills players) made a mistake, the adults in the crowd all booed him. And then this adorable and sincere little voice rang out from our section: “That was a good try, LeSean!” I admire this kid for so many reasons. For being brave enough to contradict the adults around him. For recognizing that even great players are going to make mistakes and that that’s okay. And for cheering for a solid effort. Because at the end of the day, trying your best is what truly matters.

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