Conquer Your Fear of Football: 5 Ways to Learn to Love the Game

[dropcap2]W[/dropcap2]hen September rolls around, it can be marked by some perennial truths: back to school, changing leaves and the return of football. When it comes to women and football, lines are drawn in the sand between females that bleed their teams colors and those who can not tell a “flea-flicker” from a “read-option” quarterback.

[quote_left]When it comes to women and football, lines are drawn in the sand between females that bleed their teams colors and those who can not tell a “flea-flicker” from a “read-option” quarterback.[/quote_left]One cannot underestimate the power of football. It brought Time Warner to its knees, commands multi-million dollar ratings, becomes the primary occupation of spouses and boyfriends straight through the holidays, and splits families with rivalries that rival the Montagues and Capulets. Now, I understand that there is a fear and loathing associated with football season. Personally, I have had my date nights relegated to Tuesdays, one of the few nights sans football, and have been dragged to sports bars at 9:00am on a Saturday morning for college ball on so-called vacations. So here’s the kicker : I love football. NFL and yes, even college. Yet in this post-feminist world where we now recognize and embrace the differences between men and women, why do females who want to love the game try the one-size-fits-all jersey and expect that particularly male experience of football to be equally exciting for us?
(See, I’m already channeling my inner Carrie Bradshaw.)

I needed to claim football season in my own way. I needed an expert. So I called my friend, The Fantasy Football Girl, Liz Loza, to ask her for a new way to enjoy football: as a woman. Noted as “the most followed, discussed, and respected independent female fantasy analyst in the blogosphere,” she is the co-host of the X’s & Y’s podcast, where she breaks down her football picks for the week from the female perspective. Upon helping her then-boyfriend-now-husband win his fantasy football league, the Brown-educated actress decided to join the league herself, and as the only female, proceeded to win the following two seasons. This Bears fan from the Windy City proved that it was not just beginner’s luck; she could hold her weight in this guys’ game  using not only the number crunches of match-ups and injury reports, but also with her own mix of women’s intuition combined with an eye for rapport between players, which she attributes to… you guessed it: Being a girl.

5 secrets from the Fantasy Football Girl to help you fall in love with football:

1. What’s There to Hate?

First, Liz asks you to take a look at why you don’t like the game. “Why aren’t you a fan? What is it about football that you find so intimidating, off-putting or not appealing? Because I think a lot of women think about football as ‘that annoying thing that my husband/boyfriend/significant-other/best-guy-friend becomes engrossed with and then ignores me’. So because football is the reason you’re being ignored, then you don’t like it.” But as Loza points out, “if you really look at it, there are a lot of things that we as women would inherently enjoy.”

2. Embrace the Drama

“There’s more drama and excitement in a full Sunday of football than the entirety of Season 4 of Grey’s Anatomy, and that was the season Denny Duquette was on, so you know it was the best season.” [quote_left]There’s more drama and excitement in a full Sunday of football than the entirety of Season 4 of Grey’s Anatomy, and that was the season Denny Duquette was on, so you know it was the best season.[/quote_left]As Loza says, women love the drama and the competition in everyday life, so why wouldn’t we enjoy it on a football field? “We compete with each other all the time. I’ve never seen women compete more than at a shoe store.” So why not look at the game with the drama in mind. “For instance: Denver playing the Giants, someone who’s not into football would think ‘alright Denver vs. New York, who cares,’ but it’s Eli Manning of the Giants vs. his brother, Peyton Manning of the Broncos. Eli has two Super Bowl rings. Peyton, who’s considered the much better quarterback, only has one, so now you’re getting into family drama, and that’s when I think it gets exciting. That’s why I like football. I’m going to watch just to see if little brother is going to try to best his older brother, but now older brother is coming back from an injury two seasons ago that some thought might have ended his career, and he’s also with a new team… so… there’s all of these story lines that are in each game, that I think are much more fun for most women to concentrate on than the X’s and O’s of play call. Every week it’s  ‘to-be-continued’ and that’s what’s exciting!”

3. Socialize and Throw a Party!

“Trying to make a social event out of the various match-ups can make it much more bearable.” Loza encourages you to get your friends together or to throw a little party. Co-ed viewing parties or just going to the bars to watch the games can make Sundays fun. “Make it as social as possible, so it’s not just you plus your boyfriend who’s ignoring you, and then you’re stuck staring at a screen not knowing what’s going on.” As a double bonus, if the social aspect is your thing, sometimes the planning of the party is even more fun than the game itself. “What’s more fun than New Year’s Eve? Getting ready for New Year’s Eve. More fun than watching football sometimes, is getting ready for the viewing party that you’re going to throw and figuring out what you’re going to wear. Then you get to the game, and you drink beers and eat good food, and the game’s the game. If you don’t have anything invested in who’s winning or who’s losing, you can just sit back and enjoy the company.”

4. Dress Up

“When I was in New Orleans last year for the Season Opener, I saw more women at the SuperDome who were super into football, and more than that, they were super into the fashion of football.” The women Loza met in New Orleans “weren’t just trying to buy Drew Brees NFL licensed jerseys, they were looking for the black Tory Burch Reva flats with the gold medallion, in the Saints colors of black and gold.” So, gone are days of just-for-men team gear. From Alyssa Milano’s line of sports gear made specifically for women, to maybe even a (fingers-crossed) Fantasy Football Girl line of clothing, accessories and team paraphernalia geared toward women provide more and more ways to show team spirit in a fashionable and feminine way.

5. It’s Okay to Ask Questions

“I think a lot of women don’t want to look stupid, but it’s okay to ask questions, and frankly, people who like football want to talk about it. So if you ask your partner/best friend/whoever, “Why was that yellow flag thrown?” or “What do those bars mean under the score?,” unless your friend is a total jerk, he’s going to be excited to tell you and help you understand it.” You can listen to Loza’s X’s & Y’s Podcast: a his and her’s guide to fantasy football, to get the skinny on the week’s match-ups. “Pop in a podcast – you can listen to it while you’re working out!” and then you’ll be all ready for the weekend’s games.


Do you like football? Let us know in the comments below!

If you have questions for the Fantasy Football Girl, you can find her
on Twitter @TheFFGirl and online at

Photos from Brian Alano, The Fantasy Football Girl, Mish Sukharev