Monday, February 6, 2012

Cracking the System--How Do I Know Who to Root For in Football?

February 6, 2012

Now that the Super Bowl is over for the year, I can let you in on a little secret: I do not follow football. Not even a little bit. Shocked? Yeah, I thought so.

Nevertheless, I can sit an watch a game with my hubby or our friends and root for the team of my choice, and actually have a good time doing so, whether it's the Super Bowl or one of the lesser match ups. Now, most sexist folks might say the under-informed female half of the species is most inclined to choose sides based on the rather predictable and mundane 'prettiest uniform' factor, at which I take offense.

My decision on who to root for in any given match up is multi-tiered, multi-faceted. It's a complex system that goes into deciding which team to cheer for if you haven't a clue who's out on the field. There are four major levels of decision-making input:

1. First of all, I determine if either team suited up on the field represents a bird. I have no use for birds. If you play for the Ravens or the Eagles, for example, your team is automatically out, and I'm rooting for the other team.

2. If neither team is a bird team (or if they both are), then I go to Tier Two. In Tier Two, I look at the mascots as well, and determine if one has a more favorable impression on me. Let's say for example The Bears are playing the Steelers. Bears win, because, you know, Bears are just more charming than a Steeler is. Yes, I know bears can be ferocious creatures; I'm not thinking of the mean ones. I'm thinking of Winnie the Pooh. I'm sure The Bears won't mind the comparison if it means they've got one more fan in the virtual stands. If the Vikings are playing, I have a hard time rooting for them (unless they're playing a bird team, of course), because Vikings are dirty--historically speaking. Some of the other ruffian teams also fall by the wayside due to my OCD about clean hands and clean faces. Yes, I know the current and modern Vikings probably shower regularly and clean up nicely, but my mental image of a Viking is Erik the Red, and that's simply not doing them any favors in the me-choosing-a-team department. On the other hand, if a team like The Chargers is playing, odds are in their favor. I like the spirit in a name like that, you know? There's something hopeful and optimistic about those who by name are compelled to move forward against the odds. However, if both teams are birds, I only briefly consider this question, because as I said, I've got no use for birds. This tier, like the first tier, is a draw for those two teams, as no bird is better than another. So we move to the next tier of decision-making.

3. If both teams are bird teams, and therefore at a draw, or if the mascots are equally awesome--say, The Bengals and The Lions--we move to Tier Three. Decision-making at Tier Three simply comes down to "Have I ever heard of the quarterback?" Not do I like him, not what are his stats, but have I heard the dude's name. Because, after all, if I've heard of him, he's probably pretty good, right? Unless I happen to know of his name because of particularly unsavory acts (think Michael Vick), in which case the team automatically falls into the 'there's no way I'm rooting for that guy' category. If say, a Manning is playing against Blah-dey Blah, then there will be no love for Mr. Blah. Score one (or seven) for Manning. If I've heard of them both, there may or may not be a sub-category of the tier that takes into account how pretty their eyes are or how articulate they are when speaking into a mic, but I'm not copping to that one. (It's in the fine print.)

4. Finally, all other things being equal--no bird to knock a team out of contention, equally majestic (or equally mundane, as the case may be) mascots, and equally known (and pretty) or equally anonymous quarterbacks--we come down to the final tier. Tier Four is the tie-breaker, the coin toss, the overtime final decision. Tier Four's final chance for a team to win me as their cheerleader for the day comes down to: color. (Mind you, this may change, depending on whether the team is playing in their home or their away uniforms.) Yes, yes, lots of folks choose a team by which jerseys look prettier out in the stadium against the backdrop of a verdant field, but that's too easy, too thoughtless. We only move to the color of the jerseys if all other factors yield no clear victor. After all, if those boys in blue (the team I'm cheering for against the boys in orange) are going to give it their all on the field, I figure I should put a little time and effort into deciding who is worthy of my loyalty--for the day, anyway.

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