It was a bait and switch really. We met on a 6 month study abroad program. No TV, no cable. Years later, we dated, married, and honeymooned all in the off season. So you can imagine my surprise when I woke up that first crisp fall morning of our new married life together and found out what “College Game Day” was.
Oh. Okay. So he likes college football, isn’t that nice? How wonderful that he likes to cheer on and root for our alma mater.
I had no idea how deep the obsession ran.
My first error was to utter the words, “It’s just a game,” after an excruciating loss for the home team. Rookie mistake. To a True Fan, there are not four harsher words in the English language. But I was young and foolish and had the audacity to expand on the idea.
“YOU didn’t loose anything. YOU didn’t sweat and bleed on that field. YOU didn’t blow out your knee taking one for the team. YOU didn’t drop the ball!! THEY lost. Not YOU. You are taking this way too hard. Let’s have a little perspective, huh?”
“You’re not a true fan,” he whispered, the defeat having taken all the bravado out of his voice. ”
Now, I’m not anti-sports, or even the anti-fan I managed to brand myself to be all those years ago. But I can’t help but think, if the reverse were true, if I had some intoxicating, all time consuming, behavior altering hobby for 4 months out of the year, my husband wouldn’t stand for it. Not for one face painting second.
I’ve been racking my brain, trying to come up with a good comparison to his college football bromance, but even at my most obsessed season of “Lost” watching, the episodes were only an hour long. After the “sneek peeks” at the end of the last commercial break, that was that until next Wednesday.
So for argument’s sake, let’s say there is a reality TV show that all my girlfriends and I are crazy about. It’s a four hour program and it’s on every Saturday, August through the January. But the excitement and hype couldn’t possibly be contained in only one episode each week, so there’s a pre-show show that same day, featuring packages on the various participants, stats, and ex-contestant’s in depth analysis on what they think will happen on the show. Then of course, a post-show show, where fans would call in, we would re-live our favorite moments in slow motion, and the crazies would rant on and on about how horrible the producers are, etc…
Now lets pretend that during this 6+ hour affair, I was not to be disturbed. All my duties as wife and mother were to be suspended until my pre-show, show, and post-shows were all over. Not only that, but all other conversations and concerns would have to stay on hold until I could rehash the pre-show, show and post-shows with my mother and sister over the phone. This could take several more hours depending on my cell phone plan.
Now let’s pretend that depending on the outcome of the show (who got voted off,) my entire mood and outlook on life would be altered. If the person I was vying for (a complete stranger in real life, mind you) was booted off the show, I would become ornery and depressed over the next 48 hours, at least. Such penitence and contrition would be an outward reflection of my true devotion to the show. If my favorite contestant stayed on, my joy and elation would be at a decibel so loud and jubilant, it would frighten my children.
I haven’t even gotten to the money part yet. What if I needed to own several fan club t-shirts, hats and sweatshirts? The cost of tickets, snacks, and gas as I traveled to the different locations where the show was being taped.
I ask you, would Paul, my Paul, stand for such a crazy hobby that left he and the kids out in the cold? Or sure, I’d tell him he could watch it with me, but then, who would watch the kids, change the diapers, do the laundry, the dishes….you get it. No. My productive, hard working, no nonsense husband would not stand for such a hobby. He would refuse to compete with it. The TV would be gone. The cable would be cut, and the credit card rescinded. No show would take his wife away from him.
But there is no 6+ hour reality show for women that’s on every week, season after season, year after year. Instead, there’s just one multi-billion dollar Saturday sucking conglomerate out there, and it wears pads, helmets, and very tight pants. How do they do it? What makes the allure so powerful? Maybe I’m missing something. Maybe these husbands are seeing something I’m not.
After all, 10 million “True Fans” can’t be wrong.