Football Hating Snob Turns Into Patriots Fan for Super Bowl (PHOTOS)

What does it take to make a football fan? Is there a link between the clothes you wear, the friends you make, and the games you play that turns a person into a rabid fan? Or is it something else? Something more subtle? Can a person "fake it until they make it"? This is the question I decided to ask myself with my 14-day, 9-step football challenge.

The mission: Become a football fan and be excited about football (and the Super Bowl) for the first time in my life.

This is a tall order. I have never been a football fan. Growing up in Southern Ohio, I developed a distaste for the sport early in my life thanks to far too many Friday nights spent watching football and a general obsession with the sport on every level in my hometown. I hated my town, and so naturally, I hated football as well.

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Needless to say, Super Bowl Sunday has usually been a long, boring day in my house. While the world watched football, I waited for it all to be over.

Over the years, I tried to get into football. I had a boyfriend who was a player in high school and college and, bless his heart, he tried to make me a fan. I won some money on squares during the Super Bowl, sat through several "lessons" of his during which he tried to teach me the finer points of the game, and finally gave up. I made another attempt when I met my current husband and tried playing fantasy ball to get up my "caring" quotient. It never worked.

In recent years, I have become a bona fide football "hater." I detested everything about the sport, and if you asked me a few weeks ago, I would have said it was a barely a sport and not something I care about in any way. In other words, I was ripe for a challenge.

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With two weeks to go until the Super Bowl, I was given nine "challenges" to make me into a super-fan. Admittedly, I wasn't expecting much. I am a pretty stubborn woman who would rather shop, read a book, take a yoga class, or get a massage than consider Football for more than five seconds.

As it turns out, I was all wrong. My little "fun" experiment morphed into something else, indeed. See for yourself:

Me before:

Step 1: Buy a jersey. I have never in my life purchased or worn a football jersey and never thought I would. Somehow, though, the very process of buying the jersey made me more invested. This was a few days before the AFC Championship game, so the spirit was high. I got a high-five from the guy at the sports store where I bought it. We bonded. I was just happy he asked me NO questions I wasn't prepared to answer.

 

Step 2: Paint under my eyes black. One of the questions any non-football fan has is this: WHY do they wear eye black? I asked my husband who rolled his eyes. "It's total BS. It's basically because some light might glint off their cheeks. Mostly it just looks cool."

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Hmmm ... does it look cool? Answer for yourself:

Yes, yes I think it does. Note my domestic beer consumption. Excellent, no?

Step 3: Play some football. My husband insisted this part is normally done naked. In a bedroom. But I think he was lying. He taught me some basic moves like:

The Quarterback Pose:

The Heisman:

The 3-Point Stance:

The "I have no idea what I am doing, but don't I look bad ass?" pose my husband called "Gronking":

And the (ever-unflattering) hiking of the football:

Step 4: Take a Football Quiz. This was just sad. I may have become more amenable to football in general, but I am not qualified in ANY WAY to call myself a Pats fan. Did you know Steve Grogan played for the Patriots for his ENTIRE career (from 1975-1990)? I didn't! I do now! I wouldn't say a quiz makes me a "fan," but it did make me pay attention and care for the first time in ... ever.

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Step 5: Carry a football like a baby. One of the tasks high school coaches give to fumble prone football players is to carry a football around like a baby and not let it fall. Well as a mom of two, I knew I could take this one to the extreme and maybe it would REALLY make me love football. Behold, mama's little pigskin in all its glory:

Hush little footballHush little football...


Mama can cheer more readily with her hands free!

Step 6: Grocery shop in full fan attire. This one took the most effort and was actually a pretty eye opening experience. I went to two stores. The first was Whole Foods in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where I got nothing but weird looks. My helper trailed behind me taking photos and said there were many rolled eyes and comments like, "Isn't this the wrong weekend?" To them I say this: There was a huge rally earlier on Sunday at Gillette Stadium to see off the Pats. And even if there wasn't, lighten up! And this is when I started to maybe become the tiniest bit of a football fan. Because a few weeks ago, I may have been the snobby Whole Foods shopper.

This week, I wanted high-fives and instead I got eye-rolls. See for yourself:

Then I went to a bigger chain grocery store in town where I received many high-fives, smiles, thumbs-up signs, and even a couple looks up and down from guys. Go Pats!

This made me much happier and made me feel part of a club. I was starting to get this whole football thing after all. See below:

Step 7: Watch a game among sports fans. This is where the full conversion came into play. I expected nothing from watching the AFC Championship showdown between the Baltimore Ravens and the New England Patriots. As a New Englander, I chose to cheer for the Pats, but since I don't usually CARE about football, my first thought was "I wish I brought my book." This was quickly followed with, "I think my lipstick rubbed off. And so, photo one: 

Little did I know, this would be one of the better championship games in history. Little by little, against my better judgement, I started to hope and pray and wish that the Pats would win. Maybe it was the mood in the air or the beers I had. Maybe it was feeling like I was doing the whole "fake it until I make it," thing, but slowly I became nervous. I was into the game! I was so into the game that, by the end, I was crossing everything I have and wishing with all my might that the Pats would win it. See below:

This is not staged. I was legitimately this scared.

When Billy Cundiff missed the field goal and the Pats won it, I cheered until my voice was hoarse. I jumped into my husband's arms and kissed him in happiness. Truly, I was thrilled. SUPER BOWL BABY!!

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Step 8: Eat chicken wings, nachos, and other "football foods." I'll admit that chicken wings gross me out more than any other food in the world. I love the sauce and enjoy boneless tenders, the spicier, the better, but all that fat and skin make me want to puke. But I was here to take one for the team, so take one I did. Initially, I wasn't so thrilled:


People eat this crap?

Mmmm ... better than expected!

Step 9: Put money on a game. This one is the big one and easily the straw that broke the camel's back. It seems money makes you care! By betting on the Pats, I was far more inclined to want to see them win and it made the game much more emotional and worth watching. Before, I had no idea what a first down was, but with $100 riding on it, I sure as hell wanted to see my team win. If you can't do any of these other steps, do this one ladies. It will make you care in no time.

The aftermath: When I set out to do this thing, I never in a million years thought I would change my mind. I figured I would hate football now and forever. I was wrong. Not only did I have a lot of fun, I realized I was more annoyed with the stick in the mud non-fans (like I had been) than I was with football fans. There is something fun about believing in something together. It was good bonding to go out in public and meet up with my fellow Patriots fans.

Now, granted I was lucky. This is THE time to be a Pats fans. I had no idea they would do this well when I signed on for this experiment, but truth be told, I really am converted. I may never go out in eye black again, but I care. I will never mock a football fan again, male or female.

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In the end, the lesson is simple: Open your mind a little and life becomes a lot more fun. I have never been more excited about a Super Bowl in my life. GO PATS!

Me at the end:

Have you always been a football fan? Did you become one? If so, how?

 

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