I was raised by a dad who, after growing up in Texas - where football is frankly more important than God & Jesus & maybe even mothers - yet not being allowed to participate in the sport because of his parents' fear that he would be mauled (quite likely; I think my dad weighed 110 pounds when he joined the Navy at 18), was serious about his Cowboys. It was acceptable to root for the Houston Oilers if they weren't playing Dallas, but we did not actively promote them. For the Cowboys, though, we wore hats & jerseys (my Tony Dorsett #33 is still buried in my parents' attic; must find) and bought just about anything else with the lone star logo on it - mugs, scarves, penants, socks, key chains, Christmas ornaments, wallets, underwear. I figured out early that I was welcome to join my dad in watching the games as long as I talked only during commercials; everything I know about football was gleaned in multiple two minute intervals, and by interpreting various grunts, groans, and hollers aimed at the TV. I came away from my childhood with a rabid love & loyalty for the Dallas Cowboys, a feverish animosity for the Redskins and Steelers, a basic understanding of the game itself, and a strong committment to sticking around till the end. No matter how greatly or poorly our 'boys might be playing, we watched until the final second; my dad & I once sat wearing our navy & silver gear, rain-soaked and freezing in Seattle, until the bitter last moment of a loss to the Seahawks. Then we rode the "fan bus" twenty minutes back to our car. I will watch whenever I can, for as long as I can.
And so today, last regular season game. My Cowboys are at 13-2, have won their division and will be at home for their first playoff game (I know - many of you are reading blah blah blah blah; hang with me for a minute); this is all good and cannot be affected by a loss. And although I like to imagine my wearing of Dallas gear (including new shirt, socks & underwear) plus my intense watching & cheering move the team to victory, intellectually I have to admit they really do not. Yet I can't get away from assessing the overall pattern of scoring - some weekends most of the games are blowouts, sometimes a great number feature only a single score by one team. This weekend, I'm noticing the majority of games are close, won only by a few points. It makes me nervous; I don't want to miss a minute.
Here is the conflict: I love my team, but I also love my girlfriends. And movies. And James McAvoy. Originally we had planned to go see "Atonement" tonight, after the game, but that won't work out for one of my friends. Going to the 4:00 show would work, though my Cowboys will not have finished playing by then. Sigh. It's not the Super Bowl, it's not a playoff game, it's not a do-or-die situation - but it is not meaningless. This is how much I love my friends, people.