In Part One* of this two-part Handy Dandy Guide, we explored the basics of the destructive force known as football fandom. This included an outline of what we know about football from observing fans and the game itself, and we outlined some of the devastating personality changes one may see in a loved one suffering from football addiction. This second part of the Guide will focus on determining whether or not a loved one is a football fan, and how you, a non-fan, can cope with this aspect of his or her personality.
How to tell if your loved one is a Football Fan
Fortunately for those of us looking for the warning signs, football fans, unlike drug addicts, alcoholics, and anime enthusiasts, rarely attempt to hide their obsession. Nonetheless, the signs and symptoms can be difficult to identify, even for one familiar with football and the symptoms of fandom. As always, only a licensed psychotherapist can truly diagnose personality disorders like football mania, football depression, and football delusion, though this checklist can be useful in identifying the warning signs. For the sake of simplicity, we will be focusing on professional football addiction. For potential college football addiction, please substitute “Sundays” with “Saturdays” and answer the additional question at the end of the checklist.
- Was your loved one raised in the Southeastern United States, New England, New York, Wisconsin, or Texas?
- Does your loved one have satellite television , or have you discovered hidden ads for “NFL Sunday Ticket”?
- Does your loved one have any objects (such as t-shirts and felt triangles) displayed in his or her home that contain unusual and unattractive combinations of colors and capital letters? (It may be helpful to have some familiarity with the football jersey; although this item is blindingly hideous, many football fans wear and display them with pride.)
- Does your loved one own a large foam hand, or, if he/she is from or living in Wisconsin, a large foam cheese hat?
- Does your loved one show inexplicable mood swings on Sundays during the autumn and winter months?
- Does your loved one get overly excited about September, but avoid telling you why?
- Does your loved one’s consumption of beer and fried food increase during the day on Sundays?
- Have you ever heard your loved one yelling phrases like “That was clearly a facemask!” or “Jesus Christ, don’t go for two!” at the television on Sundays?
- For potential college football fandom: Did your loved one attend any of the following universities for his or her undergraduate degree? Tennessee, Alabama, LSU, UF, FSU, UGA, Texas A&M, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, or NC State?**
If you answered “yes” to two or more of the questions provided, your loved one may be in the throes of football fandom.
**Note: Make no mistake – these schools may not have ever had a “good” football team. However, they (and the towns they are in) are known for being very accepting of football fans. Some towns, such as Gainesville, FL, turn such a blind eye to festivities that they are to football what the Haight-Ashbury district was to drug use in the 1960s.
Coping with a Loved One’s Football Problem
Despite what you may have heard, it is rare for a football fan to ever truly recover from his or her addiction. Although he or she may cease to watch every football game at its appointed time, it is not unusual for a recovering fan to catch the occasional mid-afternoon game even years after seeking treatment. It may be devastating to learn that your loved one is facing a life as a football fan, but there are ways you can cope. Even if he or she denies that they are a fan, or claims that it’s harmless, or that they can “stop watching at any time,” there is hope of maintaining the relationship.
First, do not panic. You are not alone. Many people all across the country have friends, relatives, coworkers and partners in different stages of football fandom. Contact your local Football Anonymous group and see if they have a night for friends and family. If you are worried about attending such a group, or suspect your loved one might also be suffering from other sports-related addictions such as Baseball Nap Syndrome, Hockey Pugilist’s Enthusiasm, or March Madness, perhaps Sports Fans Anonymous is a better group to contact.
Second, do not attempt an intervention. Your loved one is an addict and will not listen to reason. Pleas of “can’t you just spend time with me on Sundays?” and “but it’s just a game!” will fall on deaf ears. Instead, be aware of your loved one’s reaction to his or her team. Chart the different moods and symptoms he or she experiences. A small calendar is useful, but a daily journal can allow you to write down your observations and vent your feelings if need be. It may even help to allow your loved one to vent during bouts of football depression. Avoid watching football with him or her, or being in the same room while football is being watched – this indicates that the fandom is acceptable and normal to you, which should be avoided at all costs.
Third, be aware that football fandom can be extended beyond the designated game times. Trolling the internet for sports news or highlight reels is a popular pastime for those with a true football problem. Discuss your boundaries with your loved one, especially if there are children in the house.
Finally, remember that even if your loved one never admits to or seeks help for his or her problem, you can still have a healthy and happy relationship. Concentrate on spending time together during what football fans call the off-season: February through August. Learn when the game times are so that you can predict various symptoms of football fandom. If your loved one is exposing your children to football, take heart – football fandom appears to be largely random. Some children suffer near-daily exposure to football throughout their childhoods, and have absolutely no interest in it as adults. Simply make sure your child has many other healthy interests, such as needlepoint, baking, or mathematics. You can get through this terrible time with your relationship intact and functioning.
This concludes the Handy Dandy Guide: Living with a Football Fan. We hope that it has provided you with the information you need to determine whether your loved one is a football fan, and the reassurance that you are not alone with this disorder. You and your loved one can live healthy, happy lives in spite of this affliction. Do not be afraid to reach out for help if you need it, and the best of luck to you on this trying journey.
Editorial Notes: Happy Halloween, folks in the States! UK readers, enjoy burning your Catholic effigies in a few days. You still do that, right?
Also, my very own football addict, R. had this amazing thing to say on Saturday:
“I’m certain the Bucs won’t lose this weekend. They can’t. I’m so sure they won’t lose that I sweartogod, I’ll kill myself if they do. Do you hear me? I swear I’ll kill myself if… Fuck. I should make sure they’re actually on a bye week before finishing this sentence.”
*You didn’t think I’d actually write a part two, did you?