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Moms, men and football

Dec 20, 2012 - By Clair McFarland

When I entered the work force of domesticity in high spirits, I was harboring the archaic belief that my peers -- the fellow moms -- would share my lack of interest in football.

With this belief came a vision of a houseful of friends, wherein the men watched the game, and the women retreated with me into the kitchen to make lovely treats for those cheering and jeering husbands. I was the world's last female chauvinist.

The sight that actually greeted me at my first football party was that of wives shouting at the TV in a language of football jargon both enviable and cryptic in nature. Football illiterate as I am, I sat with the group and asked lots of questions every time a little yellow flag flew onto the field.

Or, this is what I did after making treats.

Now I am confronted with the fact that I am a minority among housewives: a football illiterate. It's OK, Dad, I don't blame you. I admire your independence from the flock, er, the team. I'll walk in your footsteps still, despite the universal pressure of my peers. Yet, being almost entirely alone in this resolve leads me to ponder why it is that most of the surrounding culture -- namely women -- have embraced this outlet I've yet to understand.

First, let's shed the visions of the 1960s that haunt me like stereotypical vestiges of overheard memories. Nobody prances around in an apron while the game is on. Second, let's characterize professional football itself. It's superfluous as an organization, it's full of impressive physical specimens, and it bears ties to war strategy.

These latter two characteristics have male gender-typing written all over them, whether the cloud of political correctness would like to acknowledge it or not. Men love to iconize physically impressive men of steel, like Superman (who doesn't play football, sorry), and they love war strategy. As far as superfluity, I think we can attribute this love to both sexes, or neither, depending on the couple.

In my rush to tie the women up into a neat package, metaphorically speaking, I hedged the assumption that women who like football have acquired the taste to accommodate their men. But one look at my dear friend Amanda, who loves the Steelers with adorable and very sincere zeal, despite her husband's lack of interest (in football), has put me back in my place, which is, no closer to a conclusion than I was at the start of this column.

The next assumption to venture is that women have loved football alongside their counterparts all along, but they haven't had time to enjoy the game in generations past because they really were so much busier back then. They cooked more meals, they washed more dishes. And, while they were washing all those dishes, perhaps the love they might have had for football was washed away with the suds: I've never known any friend or sister of my grandmother's to yell "pass interference" during a family gathering.

While I can't explain the generational progression toward the coupling of girls and football that seems so evident in our local culture, I can only venture this: these girls probably just enjoy football, the way so many of us enjoy at least one passion that bears no practical ties to our lifestyle or identity. And having such a passion is a first-down for anyone.

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