There was a time—it lasted about seven years—when my Sundays in the fall were dedicated almost exclusively to watching football. Specifically, the Baltimore Ravens. I was born and raised in Maryland, so they were my team.
With each summer season that passed, I knew my Ravens would keep me entertained as the days grew shorter and the lights came on. They were a good, exciting team. I truly enjoyed watching them throw and chase that brown pointy ball around the field. The plays, the strategy, fascinated and thrilled me. I didn’t go to the games regularly; the best seat as far as I was concerned was in front of our large-screen TV.
Hours I would spend. More than four hours on a Sunday, every Sunday they played, I devoted to this pastime. Curious that my sudden fandom emerged as I entered middle age. Maybe after a lifetime of enduring blatant misogyny, I simply enjoyed watching men beat the shit out of each other. I don’t know.… It never came up in therapy.
I was not a football fan growing up—my thing was Orioles baseball in the glory days of Frank Robinson, Boog Powell, and Jim Palmer. As a child, I’d listen to the games at night, past my bedtime—my little transistor radio tucked under my pillow providing the play-by-play.
Football had always been my Dad’s thing—he had season tickets for his beloved Baltimore Colts, even after their shameful move to Indianapolis after which the team became the Ravens. On Sundays in my youth, Dad was either in Baltimore or ruled the TV at home.
During my own Ravens years, any plans on a Sunday when they played were a no-go. I didn’t have the stats in my head, but I had the merch. T-shirts—short- and long-sleeved—fleece lounge pants emblazoned with the logo—those were my game-watching clothes. I was a true fan.
Then I wasn’t. And haven’t been since. Something about the pandemic and the lockdowns of 2020 sucked whatever football joy I had right out of me. Suddenly, football, the game, became unimportant to me. I discovered that those four+ hours could be spent doing things like writing, and playing guitar and drums. Like having brunch with my wife without rushing around. Talking with friends. Reading, listening to music.
These days, I feel freer and more open to possibilities. My Sundays are open again. I’m glad when the Ravens win, but I don’t feel like I have to bear live witness to it.
So many have lost so much to this pandemic. I have lost three NYC friends, and four others close to me have had COVID-19 and survived. It’s all around us, still. My enjoyment of football is a trivial loss at best.
I can’t come up with any big single reason for my fleeting football fandom. All I can say is, there are things in my life that the pandemic set straight. I don’t want to return to the old normal and I don’t think I can. My priorities have shifted. There’s so much I want to do before I’m ready to leave the planet. I hope I get to do most of it.
So if I never watch another football game, and I probably won’t, it’s fine. My heart’s not in it anymore so—out it goes. That’s just how I am with things in my life, especially these days. Time is precious; life is even more precious.
I won’t be a screaming couch potato on Sundays anymore. I wish the Ravens a good season. But I won’t be watching. ▼
Beth Shockley is a public affairs specialist and former editor of Letters.