0719 PV Headshot Jean Shriver.JPG

I’m sure there are some people who are excited the football season is underway.

There are families who will cluster around their TV sets, enjoying togetherness as they cheer for their favorite teams. Beer will be drunk and sometimes money will change hands.

Football is supposedly the Great American Pastime, but it’s never been a pastime of mine. 

I grew up in a university town, but I never caught football fever. Perhaps it was because I took after my mother and father who were hopelessly not athletic.

I admit that my brother was captain of the football team at his teeny, tiny prep school. He grumbled that my parents never drove up once to see him play.

Frankly, I don’t think it ever occurred to them.  

When I was dating my future husband, he’d take me to Princeton games. I liked scuffing through red and yellow leaves on the way to the stadium.

I also liked the chrysanthemum he bought me ... and I liked waving it at my friends. 

I didn’t care enough about the game to learn the rules, and I once told a foreign visitor, “See those little white lines on the field? They’re the downs. One is the first down, then the second and so on…”

Charlie was disgusted.

We had friends who hosted an annual New Year’s Day party, essentially to watch football games.

I’d wander around eating their food and drinking their wine while desperately searching for someone, usually a woman, who had no interest in the game on the television. Once, I even found three people bored enough to join me in a rubber of bridge.

For me, football is a sport with an atavistic appeal to men. 

Think about it.

Helmeted and padded hulks race up and down the field, until they crash into each other and pile on top of one another with dangerous force.

Is it slander if the word Neanderthal comes to mind?   

Some centuries later, there were knights in armor clashing and bashing each other just for fun. But I don’t remember seeing any females clanking around with a lance in their hand.

Of course, there are women raised in a sports-mad family who grew up snuggled into Dad on the sofa, cheering when he cheered and having him patiently explain the rules of the game. If I’d had a father like that, maybe I wouldn’t be writing this column.

But my aversion to football is not only because I am a dummy about downs.

We are now hearing more and more about injuries sustained in the game.

One football star recently quit playing altogether, citing pain and broken bones as his reason. People were shocked. But, I bet his family was delighted.

Parents are thinking twice about putting their sons into the game at an early age. Statistics of brain damage in older football players are alarming. Pediatricians worry about damage to young heads.

Lest you have me pegged as a book-reading sissy, or a cranky sports hater, let me assure you: I love watching tennis games.

I admire the graceful players who excel in a nonviolent game and tend to congratulate each other when the tournament ends.

I’m wondering ... do they have tailgate parties at tennis tournaments?

I could really get interested in hosting one of those.

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