Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Pigskin Passion Handed Off

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Pigskin Passion Handed Off

Article excerpt

It's hard to admit when we've made a mistake by pushing love out of our lives to please others or gain approval. I'm ready to admit I'm having an affair with an old love: football. There, I admitted it. Sadly, I don't feel any better because the team's away this week.

Over the past 69 years Old Dominion University, just blocks from our home, has not had a team. That changed in September to much hoopla and rejoicing, as I primly pooh-poohed.

Truth is, I have always secretly loved football. Shhh! Don't tell my husband the sailor, cyclist, intellectual. Or my mother.

It started when I was about 9 and my parents divorced. Life became a highly charged estrogen-infused atmosphere of extended female family: mom, grandma, and great-grandma all in one house. It was the man-haters association back in the day when our TV set was tuned to "That Girl," "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," and "One Day at a Time."

I looked forward to Thanksgiving when all my great-uncles came from north Jersey and the Midwest, filling the little house with deep laughter, football, and the scent of Old Spice. The television was loud and so were we. Forbidden snack foods came into the house of fat-free female form. It was heaven.

The women watched parades and cooked. The men laughed, ate, and hugged me until my head disappeared under their big powerful Polish arms. Those arms held families together; John Wayne men. I vow, I still can't cook a holiday meal today because I always sneaked out of the kitchen and dining room "henhouses" to huddle under the coffee table and whoop when the men did and secretly learn all the cuss words that slipped out on the bad plays.

But the old great-uncles passed away and football went with them. I learned from my New York City fashion designer mother that "boys don't like girls who eat chips and shout like longshoremen."

By the time ODU announced its football plan I thought I was quite immune to football's charms. I could scoff at the tailgaters and grouse about the traffic. …

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