Doom and despair are near. The bible says that no man knows the appointed hour of his death. However, you, the wives and significant others (to update Holy Scripture) of men obsessed by pro football will see the beginning of the demise of your mate as you know them Thursday, September 9 at approximately 8:30 PM ET. That is when the defending Super Bowl champions New Orleans Saints kick off the 2010 NFL season by hosting the visiting Minnesota Vikings.
The games so few in number and played just once per week compared to 5-6 games in the NBA and Major League Baseball create so much heartache and jubilation that there is little room for other evolved emotions. That may help explain how you’ve seen the distance between you and your man expand as the autumn leaves fall. Intimacy may be reduced to a grunt that indicates he wants you to pass along the dip for his chips. You may not be aware, but not surprised that the NFL ranks second behind money issues as the leading cause of divorce and yet ahead of sexual incompatibility.
The problem may only get worse. Your mother’s generation did not have to deal with the proliferation of pre-game analysis programming and post-game pundits that can be viewed and heard on cable, the internet and satellite television and radio. Now, over the past decade or so, fantasy football has mushroomed into a first-rate addiction requiring fans to watch more games and pour over stats to compete with friends and strangers alike in a close facsimile of football knowledge.
And feeding the fiend has become much easier. Beginning last season, the NFL Redzone channel was made more readily available providing the consumer – your lost soul mate – extended highlights on Sunday game days. And the NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is spearheading the almost inevitable expansion of the regular season schedule from 16 to18 games. The assured result will be merely two more weeks of gridiron ghosts hovering around your home.
However, there is hope or at least measures you can take to ease into this phase. Although he’s dead to you, the transition can be peaceful.
Know the time of his favorite team’s game. Most likely Sunday at 1 or 4 PM ET but there are Sunday and Monday Night games and the occasional funky Thursday and late season Saturday night games. He assumes you know the schedule and thinks you have tacitly agreed to not interfere with his afternoon/evening of football. A minimum of a two-hour cushion before and after game time of no scheduled events or the clearly defined option to attend such an event is required.
Also, be a trial lawyer who is trained to not ask a question without knowing the answer. That means find out the score before asking. Although flippantly asking who is winning may seem innocent and even engaging, that question to a fan when his team is losing is at best benign neglect. Your mate is left wondering – can she not see my pain over here. Worse, it asks him to speak the unspeakable. Saying aloud that his team is losing confirms it to the universe. However, if his team is winning, he’ll be glad to banter not only about the game but discuss your relationship with co-workers (for a little while).
Similar but not the same, in games not involving his favorite team don’t ask him who he wants to win. This presumes that he must have a rooting interest to watch a game and is irritating to entertain. Watching football is a compelling enough reason.