This is a great month for sports – the Raptors are off to a great start and currently on top of the Eastern Conference (and you’re a fan of them now, too, right?); all six Canadian hockey teams are actually doing OK in their first few weeks; and the season that’s arguably the most intolerable for non-fans, baseball, is finally over.
The NFL football season, on the other hand, is past the halfway mark. Some ordinary players have become heroes, while some previous heroes have fallen. There’s even one team who has yet to win a game, which is entertaining in itself to watch regardless of your understanding of the rules.
If you’ve been trying but just haven’t been able to catch the football buzz, we get it… but we’re here to help. Here are some ideas to get yourself (or someone you love) hooked on North America’s most popular league.
One of the best ways to get into a game is to make it your own. Sitting around watching other people play poker is boring, but if you’re allowed to play (and someone helps if you need it), the impending thrill of a win can be oh-so-enticing. While we don’t condone developing a gambling addiction, playing some cheap ProLine tickets (or similar) where you guess the winning teams can make watching the real games on TV a lot more interesting. NFL.com does its own “Weekly Pick ‘Em” too – and a Fantasy Challenge if you’re really ambitious) – if you don’t want to put any cash on the line.
Even if you know nothing about the teams at this point, you’ll probably still pick up a few wins. Make sure you gloat accordingly.
Experience it Live
Show us someone who’s been bored at a live NFL game and we’ll show you a liar. Some of the biggest Canadian fans of the sport are still waiting for their chance to make it to their team’s home game because of distance, cost, and a slew of other excuses. But if you happen to get the opportunity to hit up one of the massive, ear-popping stadiums at some point this season, for the love of God, take it. We challenge you not to smile when you see the babies wearing branded felt helmets or old men draped in a jersey from “the glory days.” The passion is hard to argue with.
If you’re still not sold, we have one word for you: tailgating. Pick up the best meats and high-end booze you can find and drag your friend with the biggest ride to what promises to be the most epic party you can imagine taking place in a parking lot.
If you’re in Toronto, you’re less than two hours from seeing the never-give-up Buffalo Bills. From Montreal, a drive to Boston to see Tom Brady and the mighty Patriots is the same distance as Toronto. And Vancouverites can either watch Titanic or drive the whole way to see the struggling Superbowl champs. Calgary, well, you’re flying somewhere… which is okay too.
The NFL is made up of some fascinating individuals. Some are hilarious, some are suspected criminals, some are just plain adorable. And some have reality shows. Like in any good novel or film, developing a relationship with the characters is essential for engagement, so getting to know the players is a guaranteed way to make watching more enjoyable.
Make it Social
US Thanksgiving is only a few weeks away, and we’re sure if you dig deep enough you can find an American in your lineage (or that of at least one friend). Now you have an excuse to celebrate that heritage and throw a great big football party. Though the real holiday is on a Thursday, and the NFL has three games scheduled, there’s still a full slate of match-ups on the Sunday to accompany all the chili, wings and beer you can consume.
Know the Score
Contrary to what your football-loving companions might admit, here’s what’s true so far this season: the Jacksonville Jaguars, Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers should go home now (they might be drunk). At the top of the standings are The Arizona Cardinals (didn’t see that coming), Denver Broncos (not surprised) and New England Patriots (though it looked rough for a minute there), along with the Detroit Lions and Philadelphia Eagles. Everyone else is hanging out somewhere in the middle, hoping their next few games will get them into the playoffs.
Injuries and suspensions are always a factor, so things can turn at any point. A quick scan of the sports website you find least offensive will keep you in the know and subsequently in the game. We won’t judge you if you read the gossipy stuff that’s there, either.
So if by now you reject all of these ideas and still want to punt that collector’s football off the condo balcony, fair enough. You’re allowed to hate it. Just don’t come crying to us on the first weekend in February when everyone you know is having a great time at a Superbowl party. We tried.
Cover image from: istock.com/locotearts