By Sue Murphy
I love football. The game mirrors my approach to life: try something, fail, try something else, fail again, but after you’ve tried for a reasonable amount of time, win or lose, you stop and watch a marching band.
For a long time, sports opportunities were slim. I have no idea how the Off Track Betting people stayed afloat, unless fans were betting on how many times the COVID task force used the words “mitigate” or “out of an abundance of caution,” but that sounds like more of a drinking game challenge.
We are indeed thirsty for some legitimate competition, so I was glad to see that some institutions are going to try to put together a football season … or at least part of me was. We’ve been holed up for so long that any little ray of normalcy lifts my spirits. But, the loving, caring, somewhat reluctant grownup part of me looked at those eager young men being sent out there to physically engage with each other at close range for my entertainment and felt more than a little ashamed. It’s not exactly the Roman emperor sending the indentured gladiators out into the coliseum, but still …
Now, I know the players want to play. I mean, why else would a person run around in triple-digit heat wearing 10 pounds of protection only to be thrown to the rock hard turf again and again and again? You have to love the game.
If the players are doing it to hear the roar of the crowd, they may be disappointed. It’s uncertain how much crowd will be in attendance. As of this writing, the seating arrangements are still TBA.
Even if they open wide the gates, I probably won’t be in attendance. My biggest outing the past four months has been to go to the grocery store, so I do not see myself sitting cheek-to-jowl with 85,000 strangers for several hours, even though there’s nowhere else I’d rather be. Sure, most games will be played outdoors, but even with 80% of the people masked (and let me just say, seriously, what is with those other 20%???), all that rah-rah-rah-ing directed toward the 50-yard line could create a body fluid cloud that would waft willy-nilly throughout the stadium. The poor players and cheerleaders, of course, would take a direct hit.
You’ll have to forgive me. Sometimes I get stuck in worst case scenario mode. Maybe everything will be fine. Let’s go with that.
So … let’s talk about tailgating. Following the recommended guidelines, you could tailgate with nine of your closest trusted and masked friends if you BYOB, BYOF(ood), and offer your pregame rah-rah’s from a six-foot distance. You’ll probably have to yell.
The alternative would be to stay home and watch the game (again, if there is one) on TV. To create a true tailgate experience, you could haul your TV out into the hot asphalt driveway and drink lukewarm beverages out of a Solo cup while you ate a plate of bad nachos. If you’re looking for even more authenticity, you could stick a tiny bootleg bottle of hooch in your sock.
If you have nine other such motivated neighbors and a long extension cord, you could all gather in the cul-de-sac and sweat together. At halftime, you could crank up a Beatles/Queen soundtrack and simultaneously run everyone’s sprinkler systems for a makeshift dancing waters extravaganza. It’s a little crazy, but these are desperate times.
Like I said, I don’t know what’s going to happen. All I know is that, boy, right now, I could really use a marching band.