Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Football Culture

So this past Sunday I was visiting family in Charlotte, NC and decided to accompany my dad to the Carolina Panthers vs. Baltimore Ravens game. He has had season tickets for the Panthers ever since they were first established and I have gone to games with him in the past, but I was younger and was less suspect of organized sports and the fan culture clinging to them. This time was different. I was well aware of the bizarro world of the NFL by the time I even entered the stadium. Here are some of the observations I made.

While sitting in the stands it is easy to get confused and think there are other football players sitting amongst you. They all have the jerseys on with their name and numbers (lots of people with the same names and numbers, though), and most of them are big guys. I would think: Why are they sitting here? To be accessible to the fans? To enjoy the game while they are off? I was sure they were players from the teams because they kept saying "we" when referring to the team. However, do not be misled, as I was. These are not actually football players. They are fan that just dress like them. And the bigness is fat, not muscle. These people might touch a football once a year, on a good year.

As a kid, my mom used to yell at people in movies to warn them of impending danger. I never understood this tactic because 1) they can't hear her through the TV, 2) it wasn't live, & 3)they were just actors. At these football games, all of a sudden everyone is a coach. They are yelling at the players to do this and to stop that. While this is live, there is no way the players can hear them, though that doesn't deter these fans from screaming what they would have done if they were a bit younger with a higher muscle/body fat ratio.

I guess you cannot enjoy football sober. Beer is a huge part of the football culture. I guess that is why everyone enjoying it was drunk, and as the only sober person, I did not find it the least bit entertaining. This drunkenness led to nonstop sexual harassment of the fairer sex. Every woman was a target for advances and requests to take their clothes off. But instead of being insulted, it genuinely seemed as though these ladies enjoyed the attention. I guess if you are a woman going to a football game, it is par for the course.

"Why would you wear a Steelers jersey and not expected to get boo'ed?!" I know competition is the hugest defining factor of sports, but the fans are ruthless. They trash talk each others team (Panther fans called Ravens fans Dirty Birds). They take everything personal and each victory and failure of the team is that of each fan. What your team did is what you did.

Football is a gender identification. Most of these fans need it to prove that they are men with testosterone. They need the cheerleaders, the beer, the tailgating, the big men in small tights, etc. I think most of these men would be lost without sports. It gives them "athletes" to live vicariously though, enabling them to feel like real men.

Obviously there are exceptions to these rules, but I do not see the appeal and am lost as to why so many people enjoy it. But I guess non-skateboarder can say the same thing about skateboarding.

I'll leave off with some of the remaining photos I snapped with my phone while at the game.

No comments: