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January 25, 2022

Window on the World Column | Find Your Passion

“Why do you like it so much?” he asked. You could ask a lot of people that same question and they wouldn’t be stumped the way I was. I thought back to the beginning of the passion, the birth of my new hobby. My friend was picking me up to take me to a game — a new experience indeed. I knew the color of the team, but I was dressed in the exact opposite — in fact, the other team’s colors — that just about ensured I wouldn’t be attending the game that day. I had no clue, obviously, what the color and support theme was all about.

I recall a lot of hoopla on my first adventure and thinking how attractive the players looked in their uniforms. I didn’t have any idea what was going on, but that didn’t seem to matter. There was a lot of noise, banter, color, music and enthusiasm going on, and I really liked that. From there I purchased the book “Football for Dummies.” I wanted to learn a little more about this captivating sport where the young men dressed to kill, and everyone else seemed really enthused.

Next, a hat was purchased and then my own shirt or two in the appropriate colors. Fortunately, my son patiently explained some of the fundamental rules of the game. When he was a young high schooler, I had attended a few of his games with the Watsonville Wildcatz and appreciated nothing about the game except for the hot chocolate at the concession stands and the relative brevity of the game.

Was I now becoming a bit of a fan? What is all this business about first down, second down, interception, snap? There was a whole new language to learn; but the more l learned, the more I enjoyed this delightful escape from regular life. I could attend a game, whether in my living room or, blissfully, at the stadium itself and Lucy-Responsible-Working-Person had, all of a sudden, left the building. She was yelling and hollering with the teenagers out there, all cheering on their side.

There is something very equalizing about sport. It didn’t matter that some of the fans have tattoos over their eyeballs and I was pretty freshly off the boat from Blighty. The football fan base is a very unifying thing. The guy in the grocery store asks me about the upcoming prospects when he eyes my hat and I eye his. “What do you think? We will probably clinch this one, huh?” “Yes, we should.” “We should never have won last week,” we chuckle. “Oh no, that was a train wreck!” … and so, the banter goes on.

A conversation that would never have been started over the avocadoes and lettuce in the corner market — unless we were both on the same team. And I like that about football, I really do. There isn’t the bullying mantra that I have witnessed in other sports. There’s no caging the fans if they are on the other side. People all sit together with different colors and cheers and that is all part of the game. Pity an East Coast team who attends a 49er game amidst a sea of red, but they are welcome to cheer along their team just as we are. And there’s the “we” again — it’s the best kind of group to belong to — a club where everyone loves the same thing and feels really positive and enthusiastic about something in their lives.

Let’s face it, many folks experience a lot of pressure and division in their daily existence — football is the great equalizer; the place where you can just relax, have fun and forget about all your worries. It’s a place of euphoria, truthfully. From the game day excitement (driving to the game with lots of ardent fans doing the same thing) to entering the stadium, settling in your seats, watching the players warm up and often famed alumni from the game showing up and giving the crowd a rise. Then there is the spectacle of the national anthem, the military colors, often a flyover and some pomp and circumstance.

The game is not too long and not too short. Often, we win the ones we shouldn’t and lose the ones we shouldn’t. Frequently, the craziest things happen to turn a game around and the crowd oohs and aahs with excitement. People leap out of their seats as, out of nowhere, a touchdown is achieved, and the masses go wild. Often an interception happens to turn the tide of the game. It is all very exciting and unexpected — a bit like life itself.

Football is a passion and a pastime. I hate to miss a game and, if I do, I record the game to watch later and try to avoid any social media in the meantime, where there might be mention of who won. I treasure my football time. I know all the players and the injury statuses; I enjoy watching the locker room postmortem and the Monday morning quarterback analyses of what happened.

It is good to have passions and I have many. From reading and writing and ranching to animal welfare and … well, football. It’s all positive good fun and I would highly recommend it to someone looking for some passion and color in their lives. It doesn’t have to be football, it could be cycling, basketball or any pursuit that takes you out of yourself and your daily life.

When I am at a football game, I feel young, free and unfettered. I have no cares in the world, just buoyant with the simple joys of the day ahead. I do not like to lose — who does — but at least I don’t cry like the guy in front of me. I will accept the result of a fair match, as we all must, and look forward to a better result next time.

Football is like life — it’s not always pretty, but there are some great views along the way.

Dad, does that explain it a bit?

Lucy Jensen
Soledad Columnist

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