Whether or not I get the same rush that the rest of my family does out of watching sports (don’t even get me started on how long the NHL season is), I was born into the inescapable clutches of football fandom. Come Sunday, I’ll be ardently cheering on the Patriots, swearing and cheering alongside the best of them, and, while it’s taken me years to admit it, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Perhaps the anecdote that best encapsulates my family’s deeply entrenched love for football is back when my brother and I were toddlers. Each Sunday represented an opportunity for our parents to try to outfit us in their team’s gear. In my dad’s case, this meant a Tom Brady jersey. After years of watching his team struggle, he couldn’t have been happier for his children to get to see them thrive. Meanwhile, my mom, who couldn’t love her hometown of Buffalo, N.Y. more, strived to pass on her family’s tradition of supporting the Bills.
Even as my brother and I got older, days when football aired retained a certain special quality. My family might have abandoned going to church each week, yet come Sunday the dogma of our respective teams and the spicy scent of wings suffused the air. Whether I was on the coach half-watching half-reading or doing homework down the hall, I could hear my dad’s voice echoing as he berated the officials for a bad call or cheered in the wake of a touchdown.
Of course, for football fans, there is no bigger event than Superbowl Sunday. A few years ago my dad was inspired to go all-out, setting up a kind of family viewing extravaganza. He even broke out his inner Gordon Ramsay, cooking all of our go-to favorites from scratch. He toiled away for hours over the fryer in our garage; the delicious results were more than worth his efforts, leading to many a food coma. Thus, another family tradition was born.
Now that I’m at Hopkins my family’s football obsession (and the associated traditions) that I once took for granted have been forced to shift. I’ve had to invent my own take, ordering delivery from my favorite Baltimore pizza spot (Isabella’s) and laughing at my frenzied text chain with my family as we watch in unison. Yet, as anyone that knows me would agree, its arguably made me a much more invested fan than ever before.
While I may not have always found watching games to be quite so engrossing, I’m grateful to be a bookworm born into a football-loving family with its own traditions and superstitions (don’t you dare talk about taking down the Patriots flag before the season is over or fast-forwarding through a play).
I can’t wait to watch the Patriots kick ass in Atlanta this weekend. More importantly, I am glad that while I may have changed, the way I engage with my family (and football) has simply adapted, growing stronger over time.