Why I’ve never been to a football game — until now

Why+Ive+never+been+to+a+football+game+--+until+now

Ari Bowman, Opinion Editor

This previously ran in our October 2021 print issue.

For many, Friday Night Lights are an essential part of the high school experience. Unlike others, I’ve never experienced the harsh lights shining on the field, the rowdy student section, or the cheer of the crowd as a touchdown is scored. I’ve never been to a football game, and I don’t really think I’m missing out on anything. 

Well, I’d never been to a football game until Pink Out. In writing this story, I was coerced to go, to cover my experience at the game. I guess I’ll say it lived up to my expectations. 

None of my friends went, so I ended up going with my dad, of all people. I didn’t sit in the student section. I didn’t want to experience the feeling of not knowing anybody, or knowing people but not knowing them enough to talk to them, say hi, or engage in any good conversation over a game I barely understood. 

My dad and I walked in, and never having been to a football game, I didn’t know where exactly I should go. We walked over to the grassy knoll on the far side of the bleachers. That was a mistake. The area was filled with loud, enthusiastic middle schoolers; the last thing I wanted to be around at that moment. The cacophony of people talking, two bands playing, and cheerleaders cheering already started to give me a headache. A bunch of pre-teens running around wasn’t exactly my vibe at the moment. 

We moved onto the bleachers. Soon, the first touchdown was scored. People in the stands cheered. I clapped my hands together as an attempted show of respect. But I wasn’t fulfilled by this touchdown, I wasn’t made happier by it. I didn’t get the appeal, the reason to scream at the top of my lungs “let’s go!” or to make lots of noise. I just didn’t get it. 

As touchdown after touchdown was scored against poor Becahi, who eventually lost a damning 41-3, my experience was even further dampened that one of the football players, whose name was intermittently announced over loudspeakers, spread horrible, transphobic rumors about me in middle school. It upset me that people cheered for him, not knowing the horrible things he made up about and said about me. But I didn’t want to ruin the occasion for anyone around me, so I didn’t say anything. Plus, I never told my dad about this rumor. The contents of it are almost too vile to put in print. 

I hadn’t realized before that I might have been avoiding football games because of the people. There were multiple players I had bad experiences with. The student section overwhelmed me. I don’t like talking to people I hardly know. 

Now that I’ve gone to one football game and disliked it, I have a reason to not go again, and a reason to tell people why I will not go. With the overwhelming environment, being around people I don’t know, and having bad memories associated with the names of a few select football players, I can assertively say that I didn’t enjoy my time at the football game. While this obviously differs from a lot of people, not everyone has to agree on the amount of fun a football game offers, and I’m sure many can sympathize with my viewpoint.  

While Friday Night Lights are often thought of as one of the most defining parts of the high school experience, I never got the appeal. Even after going to a game and trying to immerse myself in it, I still don’t. While some people might enjoy football games, I’m just not that kind of person, and that’s okay.