Loving sports fan can be rah deal

It doesn’t start with the kickoff.

It starts with preseason rankings and tweet-worthy recruits. It starts the second that game schedules hit the Net. It starts when ESPN airs footage of the quarterback firing promising bullets in a red jersey. It starts when my fiance proclaims, with the same conviction he exercised 12 months earlier, that “this is our year.”

My personal hell starts long before the official college football season does. But that doesn’t make it any easier to endure.

I’m hoping to survive Michigan State’s first football game of the season Friday. My fiance’s alma mater will consume my weekend with either nothing but hope or nothing but mope. Don’t assume I’m rooting for the former, either. Both present their challenges.

A “W” has him pacing in anticipation of “SportsCenter” highlights. When the pacing strips our rug bare, he hops online to read every last report and blog and then all the comments attached to the reports and blogs. He begs me to watch the best plays on repeat, using the words “baby” and “please” with more frequency than an R&B singer. He hums the Spartans’ fight song while pricking a University of Michigan Wolverine doll with needles. When that’s all said and done, he puffs on a cigar and exhales smoke in the shape of the letter S.

And, I live with it. “Victory for MSU” hardly translates to victory for yours truly.

What does a loss look like? If we’re talking about the great Notre Dame tragedy from five years ago, then it looks dangerously close to Tim Tebow tears.

We had been dating only a couple of months when an unranked State almost pulled off a miracle against the 13th-ranked Fighting Irish. We watched his team trample its opponent with a 17-point lead at halftime. The bar exploded with joy. Men wearing green and white embraced other men wearing green and white. Women discovered their inner cheerleader. Jell-O shots magically appeared.

But a few errors and a pick six late in the fourth quarter turned things around mighty fast. Just ask the waitress who took large orders for celebratory drinks and returned with consolation cocktails. Final score: 40-37, Notre Dame.

The pouring rain on MSU’s home turf in East Lansing added a nice touch of drama. Not that we needed any. A silent ride home and a driver bullying his dashboard provided plenty.

That was the day I discovered I was dating a college football nut.

When you realize something like this, you prepare yourself for adjustments. You think to yourself, “What’s one game a week gonna hurt?” If only the one game did it. Sports junkies have a problem separating the adjective “big” from the noun “game.” They perceive the two as Siamese twins. Every game is a big game, and every big game is a must-see.

My honey will argue that we must watch a game because it features two of the top-ranked teams. We must watch a game because neither team has a ranking but very well could in three hours. We must watch a game so the hosts of “College GameDay” didn’t go through all that trouble for nothing. We must watch a game to take in the pleasure that is the white turtleneck sweaters on the Trojans’ sideline. We must watch a game because Nick Saban could attempt something resembling a smile. We must watch a game to find out if Oregon finally added duck bills to those crazy uniforms. We must watch a game to see just how ridiculous a royal blue field looks in HD.

Bottom line: We must watch the game. What seems like every game. Every Saturday. Until the championship game. And then we must curse the BCS system.

I’ve gotten quite skilled at all of the above. In five years a girl can pick up a few things. Two-point conversions, the statue of liberty and fake punts are my favorites. I like coaches with guts and quarterbacks with confidence. I get very nervous when the receiving team gets too close to the kicker, and I can recognize holding far before the ref blows his whistle. And, if he doesn’t blow his whistle, I blow my lid.

That’s also known as foreplay where we live. Nothing excites my significant other like the sight of his woman shouting at a flat-screen TV with a scoreboard on it.

His woman can kill the mood just as easily, though. Just to get his goat, sometimes I like to shout “Traveling!” when a ref gives the symbol for a false start. He loves that.

As all-consuming as college football gets at our house, something is always there to remind me it could be worse. A couple of years back, we watched Michigan State’s season opener at a sports bar. A young guy wearing an MSU hat sidled up next to me. After a few drinks, he proceeded to recount the “worst day of (his) life.”

It was dumping rain in East Lansing, the fresh-faced fan told me. He and the rest of his fellow Spartans thought they had this Notre Dame game in the bag. …

Contact columnist Xazmin Garza at xgarza@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0477. Follow her on Twitter at @startswithanx.

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