02 February 2014

On watching football

Two weeks ago I posted the following to Facebook:
I have an important announcement: If the Seahawks make it to the Superbowl, I will willingly sit down and watch a football game without my dad. For hometown pride. And for clever commercials and an excuse to eat an entire bowl of onion dip. But mostly for hometown pride.
Note the qualifiers in my commitment: "willingly" and "without my dad." I've never been into football—this is perhaps the one thing my father wished he could have changed about me. I'm pretty sure the only game I've sat down and watched in its entirety without him was on a date in BYU's LaVell Edwards Stadium. For me, watching football was never about the game. It was about spending time with my dad.

Today is the big day, and my dad is no longer here. But I went out yesterday and bought snacks and root beer, gearing myself up for the game. I kept wondering about that—am I going to enjoy watching this? Why do I feel obligated to keep a promise idly thrown out on Facebook? Why do I actually feel invested?

It occurred to me that today's Super Bowl falls on 2 February—just two days before the third anniversary of my dad's passing. He was taken from us suddenly and inconveniently. Learning to deal with his death has been a long road, one I'm still pushing myself along. One thing I've learned is that it helps me to practice grieving rituals, and I think that's what I've turned this year's Super Bowl into.

My dad was more into college football than the NFL, but if he were alive today I think he would be excited to see our old home team make it to the national championship. I think he'd be watching. Maybe he'd go over to my sister's house to watch with my brother-in-law Ted. He'd call me when an exciting play happened, or at halftime to ask, "Are you watching?" even though he knows I'm not really a football fan.

I'm watching today so my answer to his hypothetical question can be "Yes." I think I'll feel like I'm watching with him, or perhaps for him. I don't want to miss the exciting moments he would relish. I can make my voice reflect his, taking the roll of couch-seat quarterback to exult in the good plays and points scored, and condemn the incompletions and turnovers. I'll drink root beer and eat chips and dip and feel like I get a few more hours of quality time with my dad.

Whom I still miss terribly. But I hope that for a few hours this evening he won't seem so far away.

I'm still not a football aficionado and I don't anticipate that changing. But for today: Go Seahawks!

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