Church followed by ‘football’ is a typical American Sunday. That’s what I‘ve been told anyway. And that is also my experience so far.
Last night was a fabulous novelty for me. I felt like such an American – I have an actual ‘football’ team to support – the Arizona Cardinals. And I watched and enjoyed a successful game. I italicise ‘football’ in this way because of course I’m British and normally what I refer to as football (non-italicised), people on this side of the Atlantic refer to as ‘soccer’. I’m slowly getting used to that.
So my first experience of a live NFL match was LOUD, exciting and nerve-wracking.
I left an emotional wreck – drained from head to toe. I wouldn’t recommend this excursion to anyone at the end of a rest/recovery week, because all the resting I’d done previously kind of flew out of the window. For me, the purpose of a recovery week is to rest my brain as well as my body; it is a mental, emotional and physical week of recuperation. Whilst at the game however I went on an emotional rollercoaster; mentally my brain was attempting backflips trying to work out the point-scoring system and the different players, and why the referee called a foul play or moved our team back 5 or 10 yards on occasions… I’m quite sure my brain suffered minor burnout: I ended up having to give myself a personal ‘time-out’ at various times during the last two quarters to reset, and subdue the pounding in my head. Like I said – it was LOUD and the game is complicated!
Happily, it wasn’t all disastrous. Several highlights of this game were: (1) the win, (2) the kick over the post in the last minute of the last quarter – that didn’t actually get over the post (I was a nervous wreck!), and (3) the final minute rally from the Cardinals’ defence.
So, the final score was 17-14 to the home team – Cardinals. Yeah! The first two quarters weren’t going our way – I love that I can say ‘our’ like I actually participated – but we pulled it back. So, when it came to the final minute or so and we had what I’m going to call a ‘field goal kick’, I was sure we’d get those three points to secure 20 points and have an ‘easy’ last minute. How wrong was I? Cue the heart attack (and slight feeling of guilt).
I ‘jinxed’ it.
4th quarter, 1:07 remaining on the clock.
A Cardinals player is preparing to kick for the field goal.
Me: Surely the guys don’t ever miss a goal like this do they?
Linz: Erm…No, it happens. It’s rare, but it happens.
*He kicks. The ball bounces off the post and misses*
*The stadium grimaces and Cardinals fans start to panic*
Me: AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!! NO! NO! NO! WHAT JUST HAPPENED?! (Drama Queen)
Linz: *side eye*
Thankfully I don’t believe in jinxing, but I still felt a little twinge of guilt.
Before that I’d even asked why they didn’t just go for the fourth down and get the full six points! I love how uninformed I am. As if getting that extra however-many yards to the touchdown would have been that easy… Thankfully, despite that little mishap, the Cardinals stepped up their defence and would not allow the opposing team to gain ground. AND WE WON!
I loved the grit and determination in that last minute. I need to show that much resolve when competing – never back down. And so I’ve decided that maybe these games aren’t so bad. After all, I just learned a valuable sporting and life lesson. And widened my sports knowledge to include American football! Soon I’ll actually know what I’m talking about. Soon the title will read ‘NFL everyday: Football through the eyes of a crazed fan’. Too far? Maybe. Well, hopefully my next Cardinals’ experience will be as exciting, and even more educational! I hope you enjoyed the game as much as I did!