So, You Think Football’s a Pain in the End Zone?

I was born in the U.S., but I know nothing about football. I am quite sure I’ve never watched an entire game on television. And although I probably attended some games in college, I have repressed all memory of them.

It might be hard for some people to believe that an American woman could grow into adulthood and never come in contact with even the basics of such a popular pastime. Oh, I came in contact with the intricacies of the game, all right. Dates in college tried to explain football to me. So did boyfriends and husbands later. But when the brain cells that control understanding of the rules of professional sports were handed out, I was climbing a mountain (seriously). Or getting a manicure. Or hiding.

Even though I don’t comprehend everything about opera, a Shakespearean play or organized religious services, I enjoy the communal experience and the feeling of continuity at the heart of those activities. I get the comforting sense that people have gathered to celebrate Mass, or hear “The Marriage of Figaro” or weep at “King Lear” in a very similar way for centuries. While football would also seem to be an experience that could be shared with other spectators, even if one’s mind wanders now and then, it lacks a sense of history. But I digress. Obviously, I would rather discuss anything but football.

So it would seem I’d be the perfect victim for a new video titled “Football--A Woman’s Guide.” The video was written by Rebecca Ayers, whose premise is that there is a right and a wrong way to share football with your man. Wow, does this woman have a lot to learn. Lesson one is to choose a man who doesn’t care about the game or who is tolerant of your lack of interest. There are many of them. Since she failed to follow that all-important strategy, she seems to think it’s important not only to sanction a male football fan’s enthusiasm, but to actually enjoy it with him. Yeah, right.

More than half the 36-minute video is instructional. An obviously well-meaning woman explains the rudiments and a few finer points of the game, from the fact that a football field is very big and a game lasts about three hours to the definitions of terms such as first down, punt and end zone. I learned that the numbers on a player’s shirt are not random but actually signify his position, and the guys called tackles don’t tackle. There’s also some unconvincing blather about football being some sort of metaphor for life. Even less compelling is her attempt to communicate what’s exciting about the sport--other than the intermissions and snacks.


The day after watching the video three times (OK, I was thumbing through the J. Crew catalog and eating sushi the first time), I retained almost nothing. However, since it contains all the relevant information, simply explained, a woman could conceivably learn to understand the game by viewing it, I’d say, 20 or 30 times. That is, if walking on hot coals or something equally pleasant were not available as an alternative.

“Football--A Woman’s Guide,” produced by Borndreamer in Thousand Oaks, is available at and Cost is $20.65 including tax.