As a Clevelander, it will not surprise football fans that I have not grown up with a strong devotion to football. The Browns are the only current NFL team with no wins this season, and the stadium has become known by locals (and, some say, even Siri) as the Factory of Sadness. For numerous reasons I've always been much more of a basketball and baseball fan.
But having married someone who comes from a different city with strong football fandom (and with it, strong prejudices against other cities and their teams), I find it's not uncommon for me to end up on the couch as my husband cheers for teams I have no feelings about and wishing football season would just end already.
Fortunately, somewhere along the way, I've managed to find a decent balance to enjoy game days even when I don't care about the outcome. Here are five tips for conquering football fatigue and making game days some of your best date opportunities ever.
01. Try to get in the spirit.
For someone not at all interested in their S.O.'s football team but who also doesn't want to be a wet blanket, here is my first piece of advice for you. Mentally compare it to Halloween, and dress up like a fan. That's right; pretend. Dress up your dog or kids in the team colors. You don't think twice before wearing green on St. Patrick's Day, and you're not even Irish, so is it that much of stretch? Just pretend it's Green Bay Packer's Day. (Okay more like season.) By dressing in the colors of the day, you'll naturally feel a little more spirited about it.
02. Order or make your favorite sports food.
Hone in on whatever favorite foods or drinks could be combined to the sports event to make it more enjoyable for you. Chips and queso? Chili? Veggie dip? There's got to be some sports-bar type food that you like that you can tack onto your game watches, and I highly recommend asking your guy to help set it up with you—believe me, it will help make the entire charade easier to swallow. For me, it's spicy hot buffalo wings, and, as it turns out, spicy foods help boost your mood, so it's no wonder they warm my football fatigue. Choose a personal comfort food, and just watch it warm up your team spirit.
03. Try to find some personal attachment to the team.
It still can feel a little contrived at this point, I'll admit. I'm wearing the colors and enjoying my wings, but the enjoyment of the game can only go so far. Now's your chance to find someone or some aspect of the team to root for. Did one of the players come from your state or college? Is one of them a vocal supporter of a cause you like? Think of how when watching a horse race like the Kentucky Derby, you'll try to think of something that attaches you to the name of the horse you want to root for (you know something about the sound of Nyquil and former supreme court justice just makes you want to root for last year's winner, Nyquist). It can be the most objective or subjective thing in the world, but if you're human, you can find a connection. Then you're one step closer to enjoying the game.
04. Double- or triple-date it up.
This is key. Add more people like you to the mix. Chances are there's another couple or two in your circle with whom a game watch would be a great opportunity to keep in touch or even invite over for the first time. I could enjoy an entire game sitting back with some wine and a girlfriend while our husbands are glued to the TV. Inviting other people you like can make a game watch more fun—for those not as interested in, you know, the game.
05. Ask him to join for some of your hobbies, too.
If after all of these efforts you still struggle to enjoy time together during football season, think of something you'd like your husband to do and invite him to join you. Swing dancing? Trivia Night? That band in town? Even if it's not his thing, if he joins you for something that's more in the range of your interest areas, it can do wonders for making your time spent at game watches to feel less wasted. Relationships are about sharing your lives together, after all, and that includes healthy communication, give and take, and small sacrifices on a daily level.
In the big picture, football season is just a drop in the bucket in the larger journey, and there are so many other delightful things to fill it with. For me, that includes lots of buffalo wings and dancing.
Photo Credit: Buff Strickland