Yesterday, I went to my first football game since high school. My university really didn’t have a team, well they did but they were sad, very sad… University of Chicago is known for their “strong academic programs” in other words not their sports. They were probably the most intelligent football players in the country, but they couldn’t play football for the life of them. I always thought my old Tigers from high school could whip the Maroons with their eyes closed.
Why now? Well, I have been adopted by a family that attended colleges with good sports teams. I was invited to attend, as a family bonding experience, to a game of their college against the University of Washington. I was eager to go, both for the bonding opportunity and for the experience of a post high school football game. The game was in Seahawk stadium and I was excited to visit the stadium purchased with my taxes. Note: I will not call it by the “sponsor of the year” name, it will always be Seahawk stadium to me.
We started the afternoon at F.X. McRory’s a famous establishment near the stadiums in the Pioneer Square neighborhood of Seattle. The eight of us had a leisurely lunch and several drinks as we whiled away the hours before game time.
“I’m excited to go to this game.” I exclaimed at one point. Showing how I was all for family bonding. “I can’t wait to have an $8 pint of beer and sit and watch the game.” I continued.
They all turned toward me in unison with looks of dismay. “They don’t sell alcohol at college games, Rebecca.” They scolded me, as if I broke the first cardinal rule of college football.
“Really?!” I responded, trying not to sound too upset.
I was beginning to wonder how this adventure would turn out. Not only was I wearing the color red amidst a sea of purple, but now I had to do it sober. I took a deep breath and told myself this would still be easier than being stuck on a fishing boat in the middle of the Bering Sea during a storm. I extended the warm buzz I was beginning to feel from a couple of beers with dessert, a bourbon coffee. The warmth of the bourbon coffee helped me face the sea of raging purple people I climbed through as I exited the restaurant. At one point a short female collegiate screamed something up at me and I looked down at her and just smiled. She ceased her screaming. The calm bourbon aura surrounding me must have stupefied her into submission.
Walking towards the stadium, I was beginning to realize the dangerous situation I had subjugated myself. There was purple everywhere, not just on people, but on cars and trucks. For 16 years I had no idea that purple was the unofficial color of Seattle.
As my group of red color wearing people neared the stadium, I felt myself walking taller, a soft smile on my face but a slight meanness around the eyes. I was happy I lifted weights earlier that day so I felt strong, I was happy I grew up in Chicago, my city sense, don’t F*$k with me attitude, rising ever so slightly. I felt relieved momentarily by people wearing pink t-shirts and giving out pink beaded necklaces in recognition of breast cancer awareness month. “My mother is a survivor.” I said as I grabbed some beads. The purple and pink person snapped a glance of surprise at me, then smiled and said they were happy my mom is a survivor. A short moment of bonding between opposing teams.
We found our seats up in the nosebleed area. “Visiting team seating” a sign should have said. I felt more comfortable now as I was welcomed with smiles and two fingered hand gestures (which were for victory or something like that) from complete strangers wearing red and gold. I finally found my adopted tribe, all because I was wearing a red jacket.
As we ascended up to our seats, I only had to pop my ears once. I was amazed that I could still make out the players on the field from this altitude. When the UW marching band began their pre-game show, I watched excitedly as they formed letters, a flag post for the flag of the U.S.A and at one point what I think was the ribbon used to signify solidarity for breast cancer awareness.
I do have to say that attending a football game in person, is far more rewarding, at first, than watching a game on TV. To hear the pigskin smacking the hands of a receiver for the first time, was a religious moment. The energy of that coupling reverberated throughout the stadium – a hush of awe was in the air. It seemed to play in slow motion, because as soon as it was over the stadium was roaring with pleasure. Is this the “12th man” affect I always hear about?
The excitement of those first moments at a football game began to fade by the second quarter. Could it have been because the effects of my pre-game beverages had worn off? Probably. I tried to get back into the game by buying some red vines, the only thing besides beer and hot dogs I crave when at a ball park (although hot dogs are for baseball games not football). After the first half I found myself watching the large video screen to see where the ball went after leaving the q-b’s hands. By fourth quarter my eyes were glazing over and I had to blink several times to focus on the field.
All in all it was worth it. I have earned a badge of honor from my adopted family and that is priceless.