Football! Yeah! Rah Rah! Oh Shut Up

This article reminds me of why I despise football.

Make no mistake there are plenty of wonderful men who watch it and thank goodness for football because that’s my cue to take a break and even make sandwiches. The truth is I hate television in general but football just gets to me. It’s personal.

On the very first day I entered High School in New Jersey it happened to coincide with the very first day that Title IX was implemented. On that first day, I had gym class, and it was co-ed! Woot! Woot!

I had been in co-ed gym classes before—usually when one or more gym instructors were sick or on vacation. The two classes would be combined and instead of the girls picking on me mercilessly (I attended nine different school systems) the boys would flirt with me. In other words, it was a welcome reprieve. Instead of team sports, we would do something like a relay race or calisthenics, or run around a track, and I was great at all of those things.

But this class was different. As we all stood outside in the sun on the football field (“sun, you say? why that’s illegal today. We all know sun is dangerous! Oh. Blah Blah. What do you know? I have always loved the sun and the sun loves me.) the coach a.k.a. boy’s gym teacher made an announcement:

“We’re supposed to treat boys and girls exactly the same. Since I usually start the boys with football, that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to play football.”

Inside I was terrified. Here’s something that is important to know about me. I have always been tall for my age, and strong, and muscular. I have been climbing, running, bicycling, swimming, and so on, most of my life. Here’s another thing that is important to know about me. I am lousy at team sports as it seems that I had an undiagnosed vision condition until I was aged 30, corrected by therapy. Specifically, instead of seeing life with binocular vision, I had been unconsciously alternating between my eyes. I had no sense of distance even if I didn’t know that I didn’t. I would merely panic in close quarters with lots of little females running around. I was afraid that I might hurt them! As for catching a ball, forget it. Naturally, this condition led to no end of teasing, humiliation, ostracization, etc., as it would seem that team sports are or were essential for popularity in schools. The fact that I would instantly become the academic star wherever I was positioned didn’t help at all. Worse yet, even the nerds were afraid of me.

Generally speaking, to make things worse, each time my family moved to a different school system, the demographic changed, such that, as soon as I got the hang of blending in with one culture, the culture would change.

On the first day of High School however, it was, uncharacteristically for my life, a lily-white suburban school. In other words, my effective peers. What’s more, on this day, some of the boys were actually taller than me.

Some of them were way taller. In fact, at this particular legendary gym class, grades 9 and 10 were combined. Let that sink in. I was about to play football with actual Sophomore Male Football Players!

By the way, football was never on the television in my home growing up. I didn’t even know how one played football. I had no inkling to the rules, etc. I therefore did what just came naturally to me: I stood off to the side, over by the trees, and tried to become one with the trees. Perhaps if I didn’t move a muscle, I wouldn’t be required to humiliate myself. Naturally, I didn’t even watch the game but rather daydreamed as if I was born to do just that.

Suddenly, the coach’s voice woke me from my reverie:

“Has everyone had a chance to be quarterback?”

“She hasn’t.”

“Not her.”

“That girl over there.”

“The tall blonde girl over there.”


At least twelve boys fingered me! No. Not that way.

Two boys walked toward me. They were going to bring me into the game!

“What do I do?” I asked. This was going to be dreadful.

“Take the ball,” said a Sophomore boy into my ear gently, “and run with it.”

“I can run,” I announced quietly yet hopefully. “When?”

“I’ll tell you,” he said, kindly.

My football career consisted of the following:


I ran as hard as I could straight into another male Sophomore football player, who had merely stepped in front of me.

About 5 seconds.

It was like running into an oak tree.

I fell back on to my sacroiliac and it has never been the same. I am now susceptible to piriformis syndrome such that I dare not even ride a bicycle. It is like sciatica. There is no worse pain I imagine other than say having brain surgery with no anesthetic.

Thank you Title IX!

8 thoughts on “Football! Yeah! Rah Rah! Oh Shut Up

      • I sometimes lose track of the ball, but it’s the guys hitting it, throwing it, missing it, catching it, hustling for it that’s the interesting part. I admit it’s an acquired taste, having spent my formative years in Ancient Brooklyn (1946-51) when the Dodgers were the local religion and the Giants were the absolute devil. Now I have to root for the former Devil because SF is my original home town, and my youngest daughter runs a bar in North Beach where the Giants are the local deities. Generally, I don’t like team sports for all the usual reasons.

      • I used to like to watch basketball–live, up close, and personal–back when they wore the short shorts. Then I had the opportunity to take up some floor seats for the golden years of The Lakers and I was back on board. Baseball, however, has also been ruined for me having had better seats than I can ever hope to afford for the Dodgers when Nomo was king. Since then, if I want to watch male athletes in action, I just go to Venice Beach and watch the breakdancing skaters, or suffer through an edgy dance club, or go canoeing and stage a capsizing accident, or go to the Jersey Shore and wait for a swimmer to have a heart attack. If I can’t smell the action however I just get bored. I also appreciate the female athletes who take up pole dancing–also best enjoyed right up close and personal.
        Next time you visit your youngest daughter, why not take a detour south? 🙂

      • No doubt I’ll get to the LA Basin or thereabouts one of these years. Got a son in Santa Barbara (Goleta, actually) and a granddaughter working ín Century City right now. I worked and lived in Ojai for a few years around 1990 and would love to revisit there for the hiking and general ambience.

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  2. “What do I do?” I asked. This was going to be dreadful.

    “Take the ball,” said a Sophomore boy into my ear gently, “and run with it.”

    That does remind me of my year in a technical college many years back. Since we were olnly 3 girls in the class, we had to play Rugby.
    “Take the ball,” said the little guy, “and run with it.” I grabbed the ball, turned around and saw the biggest lad in the class running for me. I dropped the ball instantly. I am nuts, but not THAT nuts!!!

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