Unlike those who never watch football (like some basketball fans) and those who understand the signals and know players by name and number (like our sons and grandsons), I prefer a relaxed approach.
You might say I've perfected a method of watching football without really trying.
During the endless football season, television brings many games into our home. Although I have ample opportunity, it's best not to be present when the game begins.
The rest of the family is watching the game intently as I walk in and casually ask, "who's playing?" and "what color is what team?"
Settling down to watch the game, I notice the ball and players but seldom do I see the two together. Consequently, I often miss the real action. If it's something worthy of attention, I catch it on the replays, designed for this hit-and-miss type of observation.
Learning the terminology is optional, for it's far easier to forget or mix terms, such as umpires and referees. I conveniently use or misuse these particulars throughout the entire game. Besides, the sports announcers don't always stick to technical terms anyway but borrow from other arenas. That must be the reason for calling them "color commentators."
Then there's the problem of rules changing between professional and collegiate football, such as overtime and how much a player is allowed to celebrate (or "hotdog" it) when scoring a touchdown.
Questions usually annoy real sports fans. But questions are my essential game plan. I am not a real fan, but a casual spectator and find it necessary to sit near someone who knows all about this sport. Paying attention to the real fans' comments on the plays is far more important than listening to the play-by-play announcer.
I have learned less about football and more about my family as they give sideline advice to coaches and officials.
Jersey numbers are important when finding out about a certain play or player, yet by the time I distinguish their whole number, the player is off the field. Statistics are recited by announcers and fans, involving not only the game at hand, but the player of team's history. I've decided that football statistics are a specialized program of the mind, a password for identifying real fans from those like myself.
As the game progresses, I get involved in spite of myself and exclaim, "what a catch!" or "there he goes with the ball!" My attention span is limited, however, and soon shifts to concern for the players' physical condition (I wonder why so many have to pile on top to get one man down), or to observations about the uniforms (I notice design or shoulder pads out of place). Have you noticed how florescent the colors are this year? One team looks like giant black spiders in formation ready to scramble down the field.
Formerly, I talked about laundry problems presented by muddy fields, but now Astro Turf has limited that concern.
It helps to have something else on my mind. I keep magazines handy for browsing. I also think about post-game activities or what to fix for supper.
Any of these thoughts can be dropped mentally if something exciting happens during a play, such as the pleasant interruption of a dog wandering onto the field or when officials coax an over-excited fan out of the stadium.
My favorite diversion is the half time performance -- the bands, their formation, and special effects.
My most vocal complaint these days is why someone thought we needed to hear the network's "talking heads" instead of watching the bands during half time. And of course, there's the remote control, called the "flipper" at our house.
The stream-lined version of QV (quick view) provides swift channel changing to change segments of another game.
If I look away and then back to the screen, different color uniforms show me it's a different game.
Obviously with this method, I do not gain much knowledge about the skills involved in football.
So the rewards must lie elsewhere. Simply enough, I watch the game because
I love my fellow spectators.
The real football fans.