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Football Team Loyalty

The first football team that I ever supported or otherwise paid attention to was the Seattle Seahawks. I’m originally from Miami, Florida, but I don’t recall watching in earnest a Miami Dolphins game. If I did, it was more like it was on in the background. I didn’t understand football, didn’t grow up watching it, nor did I have any sense of loyalty to our local team. My brother and I did not grow up in a football home, even though today, we both enjoy watching the NFL.

What got me first interested in football (and other sports, but mostly football) was when I was living in Seattle, I worked at a gym. I loved my job there. It was a refreshing break from my previous job, which I was recovering from stress-related burnout. I taught yoga classes, folded towels while greeting workout aficionados at the front desk, and played with children at the children’s center. I think it was probably the most fun job I ever had. I made lots of friends there, most of them hardcore Seattle Seahawks fans. That’s when I started watching football, and their energy for the sport was infectious.

My boyfriend at the time, who also worked at the gym, was patient enough to answer all of my ignorant questions about the game. What are they doing? Why did the ref throw the flag? Why is that a foul? Why was that play worth six points? Three points? Two points? An extra point? What positions are all of those players and why are they doing what they’re doing? Why was that team penalized by feet? As my understanding grew, so did my appreciation for the game. I was no longer enjoying myself because of the collective energy of watching games with friends. I enjoyed watching the games because I understood what was happening, and I even got to know some of the details of individual players, such as their strengths and their stats.

Fast forward a few years and when Andy and I first started dating, he was a committed New England Patriots fan. An interesting coincidence, Andy and I had lived in Seattle during the same time, but never met. He had a grudging respect for the Seahawks, but his team loyalty was firmly committed to Tom Brady and the Patriots. We would regularly watch football games, even from the beginning of our relationship.

The discussion of team loyalty came when we got engaged.

“Should we both switch to the Cowboys?” he asked one Sunday afternoon while watching whatever game was playing.

“Why?” I asked.

“Well, if we’re going to have a family, wouldn’t it make sense for the kids to grow up rooting for the same team that their friends in school will be?” he said.

I thought that was a good point. When we got married, living in Dallas, Texas, we were Cowboys fans. We would often watch the games with one of our brothers and it became a regular part of our family life and routine.

To be a fan of a team is not like joining a club or even a political party. There’s no card. There’s no membership fee. There’s no uniform requirement, although team apparel and other fan gear are encouraged during game days. Whether you prefer a particular team or are indifferent to the sport, it makes no difference outside of vocal support. The reason why this conversation comes up is more a matter of community.

Now that we’re in the middle of football season, this conversation is now happening again in our household. Given that we now live in Annapolis, Maryland, should we as a family change our allegiance to the Baltimore Ravens or the Washington Football team? (Seriously, the Washington team needs a new and better name than “football team” since retiring the name “Washington Redskins.”).

Between the three contenders, I support transitioning to the Baltimore Ravens. Being a book nerd, the literary connection to Edgar Allan Poe certainly appeals to me, but more than that, it’s a way to connect to our community even during social distancing. Andy is more hesitant to give up allegiance to the Cowboys, even when they’ve had a few difficult setbacks.

To me, it’s a connection to our current community. It’s difficult to catch a Cowboys game, too, because many of the stations don’t even play those games unless the Cowboys are playing a northeastern or midwestern team. I don’t know whether my family will remain in Annapolis for the long haul or if our time here will expire in three years when Andy’s contract expires at the Academy. I don’t know whether we’ll move back to Texas or a brand new state, given whatever opportunities may lie in the future. I don’t know what the future holds. For now, I’m happy to be here and I see our team affiliation to be more a reflection of our life today in Maryland rather than clinging to past residences or musings about potential future moves.

The internal Forisha family football team debate isn’t over, but for myself, I say, “Go Ravens! Quoth the Raven, ‘Nevermore.’”


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