Football is the one sport I ever enjoyed playing. I went through years of girls’ softball, because that is what girls in my neighborhood did, and even a disastrous single season of soccer. My parents’ favorite story about my early sports career involves an assignation at the defensive end of the soccer field and the concentrated scrutiny of a bumblebee. When asked why I wasn’t running after the ball, my response was that it would be coming back down any minute anyway.
You can’t do that in football. You can’t wait in the outfield or by the goal and space out. Football makes you plug in, use your mind, accomplish strategy as well as athleticism. I spent a glorious couple of weeks at a flag football YMCA camp over the summer, and came home and informed my mother that I wanted to try out for the high school junior varsity team.
As you can imagine, she wasn’t thrilled. But I went to the coach (who I knew through the Y) and talked to him about it. I set myself a couple of extra training sessions before the summer training would begin. And then my mother finally came to me, told me how hideously uncomfortable she was with me playing, for reasons of probable on-field murder, and I dropped out.
Fast forward a few years, because San Diego, where I grew up, is not a sports-centric town to the degree that Seattle is. It was relatively easy for me to ignore the Chargers for entire seasons at a time, and the high school that I eventually transferred to didn’t even have sports teams. There are plenty of things you like as a kid that you learn to let go of – Animorphs, Polly Pocket, football. I let them all go.
And then last year I got to Seattle. Holy crap does Seattle love its Seahawks. And for the first time ever, I had friends who loved football too. A whole group of them, actually – my boyfriend’s Fantasy league. I was dubious at first that merely watching the game could be as cool as playing it, but they proved my fears misplaced. I watched games at their houses, screaming with them at the television and making regrettable beverage decisions. I participated in the Playoff Challenge, making some risky lineup choices that actually served me fairly well (at first). I left class to go to the parade downtown when the Seahawks returned from the Super Bowl. I know players’ names and positions. I have Football Opinions. I even wrote a couple of columns for the Central Circuit.
I made it very clear that when next year’s draft rolled around, I wanted in the league.
Next year’s draft is rolling around, but guess what? I’m not in the league. Because I’m a girl.
That’s it. That’s the reason.
Not “I’m inexperienced” or “I’m shitty to hang out with” or “I’m too competitive.”
I’m a girl. And it hurts. Continue reading