In the past, I would gather with my hippie friends. We would get drunk, eat hummus, and mock the football game while enjoying the half-time show and occasionally funny commercials.
However, I actually watched the Super Bowl this year with intensity and excitement. Now, if you were to have met online at the beginning of football season you would have seen two different people. I was the girl who hated football and hated that my boyfriend could watch the game and not even know I was there. Football to me was just an excuse for guys to get together and drink, with the enjoyment of being sideline coaches.
I didn’t want to partake in football at all until one day my boyfriend asked me if I wanted to bet on a game with him. ‘Sure, why not,’ I said. He let me pick the team, and the spread, and before I knew it, I was sitting on the couch yelling at the television set whenever the team I picked screwed up. I wanted to win $50! Knowing I could put a little extra cash in my pocket gave me the incentive to understand the game a little bit more.
The team I chose lost that day, but it was then I got hooked. I started to ask my boyfriend more and more questions about rulings and what made an elite quarterback. He would help me bet on games and every once in a while he wouldn’t interfere, and I would pick on my own. While the excitement of winning money certainly piqued my initial interest, I started to do research on players that I liked.
It was then that I discovered Colin Kaepernick and Vernon Davis from the San Francisco 49ers. With Kaepernick’s story of being adopted and Davis’s rise to become a leader of his team, I couldn’t help but cheer for them to succeed. While every team has players with a special a story, I emotionally connected to Davis and Kaepernick.
For the first time in my life I had a football team to root for.
Then came the playoffs. As my 49ers squeaked their way in the final playoff game against the Atlanta Falcons, I watched the game with one eye opened and the other closed. I felt nervous. I felt scared. I felt overwhelmed with emotion as it began to look like my team would not make it to the Super Bowl. But miraculously, they pulled through, and on February 3, 2013 my team had the chance to win their sixth Super Bowl against the Baltimore Ravens.
At the beginning of the year, I had absolutely no clue who Ray Lewis was. (Not knowing who he was shocked most everyone I know). Sure he is one of the greatest players football has seen, but he was on the wrong team. He wore the wrong colors. Ray Lewis wouldn’t look good in scarlet and gold, anyhow.
Within a short period of time my boyfriend watched me transform from a woman who thought football was ridiculous, to a woman who couldn’t wait to see her team win. Two days before the Super Bowl, my boyfriend had the chance to get a Super Bowl ticket and see the game live. Problem was, there was only ticket available. I told him he should go. He looked me in the eye and said, “Anya, it is my duty as your boyfriend to see you watch your first Super Bowl that means something to you.”
As we got ready to watch the game, I threw on my team colors and even bought bright red lipstick. I wanted to give my team as many good vibes possible. Could it be possible that I felt more excited to watch the game than my boyfriend? Well, I was. But I made him cheer for the Niners and he even put on red for me. We were in this together.
Watching the game with him that night, I felt a strange connection between us. We cheered and screamed at the television together. We felt excitement when Kaepernick would make a great play, and we yelled at the referees when we felt they made a bad call. While my boyfriend’s team wasn’t playing (ahem, the Tampa Bay Bucs), he wanted to see my team win. We passed each other high fives and did a little dance in front of our friends rooting for the Ravens.
But, all good stories must come to an end. As the seconds passed on the clock, it became evidently clear that my Niners would miss getting another Super Bowl ring. I buried my head in my hands in disbelief. We were so close, yet so far. The drama! The pain! The heartache! On the drive back home I started to bawl in the car and my boyfriend didn’t understand what had happened. No, I wasn’t just someone rooting for the Niners because I like their team colors. I was rooting for them because they were my team and it was our Super Bowl to win.
Getting into football gave me a shared common interest with my boyfriend. While he secretly hopes that I will become a Bucs fan, he is excited that next year I won’t be down his throat for wanting to watch football instead of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.
The only time I’ll cheer against his team is when they play mine. However, I doubt I’ll ever have to worry about the Bucs playing against my Niners in the Super Bowl because chances are, the Bucs won’t make it. But, don’t tell my boyfriend that.