Saturday, November 13, 2010


I am kind of a closet football fan.  I don't watch it much any more, but I watched a lot of football in my youth, and apparently this has a lasting effect.  I grew up in Central PA, about 2 miles away from this particular monstrosity of steel and concrete (although it wasn't quite this big when I was a kid):

The population of the town I live in now would fit into this stadium, and there would be lots of leftover seats.  I have lots of memories of working outside with my dad on Saturdays in the fall, listening to the game on a round, yellow Panasonic transistor radio.  (Which, it only occurs to me now, is apparently named to distinguish it from the "vacuum tube radio."  Which you have to admit is kind of hilarious.)  We would hear the cheers for a touchdown on the radio, and then several seconds later, we'd hear the soft roar from the actual stadium.

When I was in high school, against the better judgment of our cross country coach, most of my teammates and I also played powderpuff football in the fall.  I was a safety, and this is the only thing that has ever caused me to regret my gender, because after a taste of playing safety in flag football, I wanted nothing more than to be an actual defensive back.  I knew that, "When the linebackers screw up, the chains move; when the secondary screws up, the scoreboard changes."  (Do people actually say that?  Apparently, yes, at least in Central PA, and I'm guessing in Texas as well.)  My hero was Ray Isom, the 5'10" safety for Penn State who was a phenomenal hitter.  He was once quoted in the local paper as saying that he knew a particular hit had been really good, because it took the receiver awhile to get up.  I understand on a rational level that this is sort of a horrific thing to say, but on another level, I wanted to be just like him.  And for what it's worth, the most efficient way to get a receiver's flags in flag football is to knock her to the ground first, take the flag second.  Just saying.

So today I went to a totally different kind of football game, the annual Williams/Amherst game, aka "The Biggest Little Game in America."  It was a perfect day--almost too warm for football, actually--and the game had the perfect outcome, i.e. Williams won.  The game was a lot closer than the final score of 31-16 suggests--Williams didn't put it away until the 4th quarter.  There was a lot of hype (in a relative, Division III kind of way) this year, because Williams came into the game undefeated.  They also have a new head coach, who by all accounts is pretty awesome.  And I'm not the only seemingly normal person who becomes transformed a little bit in the heat of an exciting football game.  Sometime in the 4th quarter my friend Traci, a generally mild-mannered mother of two and all-around upstanding citizen, observed that, "It's not enough just to beat them--we need to break their spirit."  Here is Traci in the stands with my face-painted daughter:

My daughter had a major thrill at the start of the game today.  Through a random series of events I was scheduled as one of the sideline interviews for the game--every year they pick a couple people related to each school and interview them during a lull in the game.  I brought Charlotte and a friend of hers along, and at the end of my brief interview, the NESN reporter asked them each who they were rooting for (she knew that Charlotte's friend was an Amherst fan).  So they shouted out "Williams!" and "Amherst!" and then the reporter said, "Back up to you, TC."  (All you good Red Sox fans know who TC is, obviously.)   The girls were thrilled to be "on TV" (though it's debatable whether or not NESN really qualifies), and I was relieved they were there to class up my interview.  I am actually unable to watch the interview, because I start to vomit just thinking about it, but I made my husband watch it, and he says I came off as "earnest and boring," which is probably the best I can hope for.

And in other, less media-friendly, athletic news, both the men's and women's x-country teams at Williams qualified for nationals today. Go Ephs!

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