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8 Reason For Non-Football Fans To Fall In Love With Football Culture

Updated on May 2, 2013
A West Virginia Mountaineer night football game at Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium.
A West Virginia Mountaineer night football game at Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium. | Source
The student side of stadium filled up for a great night game.
The student side of stadium filled up for a great night game. | Source

The experience of watching football on television is fun especially with friends and family, but going to a game is the ultimate experience. If you have the chance to attend a college or NFL football game do not miss it. You will be able to take part in long time traditions, tailgating and a game that has its own culture. If you cannot attend a game it is also fun to throw a game watching party. Here you will find ways to enjoy all parts of being a football fan. This covers college and NFL football. This American tradition is the perfect bonding experience for everyone.

The West Virginia University mascot, The Mountaineer during a football game.
The West Virginia University mascot, The Mountaineer during a football game. | Source

Long Traditions


Traditions are the best part of the football culture. Traditions bring the fans together and can last for generations. They are ways to enjoy the team even more than many thought was possible. I do believe the college traditions out way many of the professional traditions. I enjoy both levels of the sport, but there is something about going to home games in your favorite college town that professional teams lack. As a fan of the West Virginia Mountaineers, a game in Morgantown, West Virginia is something that I look forward to. I go to as many games as I can even with an eight hour drive. Game day is a sight to behold and tailgating can make it the ultimate party. (See the section: Tailgating.) Here are 5 traditions that both levels of the game have.

COLLEGE:

  • Mascots (WVU: The Mountaineer)
  • The Fight Song (WVU: Hail, West Virginia)
  • Marching Bands (WVU: The Pride Of West Virginia)
  • Unofficial Anthems (WVU: "Country Roads" by John Denver)
  • Chants ( WVU: Let's Go Mountaineers with the student side yelling "Let's Go" and the press box side responding "Mountaineers" and the first down cheer is heard during home football games. Mountaineer fans raise their hands and cheer in unison until the first down call is made. Following the call, the fans lift their arms up-and down three times, clap and then signal to the end zone chanting "first down."

PROFESSIONAL:

  • The Super Bowl: The annual championship game of the National Football League (NFL) is the biggest game of the year. The winner is given the Vince Lombardi Trophy named for the coach of the Green Bay Packers who won the first two Super Bowls in 1967 and 1968. The Super Bowl is often the most watched program of the year with many of the recent Super Bowls being listed as the most viewed programs of all time.
  • The Playoffs: The single elimination tournament is held after the regular season to decide who will play in the Super Bowl. Six teams from the National conference and six teams from the American conference play each other to make the decision. The Playoffs are often watched at parties in sports bars or at parties in people's homes. Many fans beat on the playoffs.
  • The Draft: In April of each year football fans get a taste of their favorite sport when the college level players are up for the NFL draft. The players must have finished high school three years before or attended at least three years of college. The ultimate goal of college players is to be picked by a NFL team during the draft. There are 7 rounds and there are 32 picks in each round (there are 32 NFL teams). There are other ways to join a team, but this is the high profile way.
  • Thanksgiving Day Games: Thanksgiving Day and football games are a combination that has been going on for decades. College football games being played on Thanksgiving Day started back in the 1800's at the college level and the professional league started playing on Thanksgiving in the 1890's. The Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys have each played a home game on the holiday for decades. In 2006 a third night game was added with the home team being different every year. One of the greatest Thanksgiving specials, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving even shows how football is a part of the holiday.
  • Monday Night Football: Since September 1970 Monday Night Football has been a weekly fall tradition. From 1970 to 2005 the prime time game was shown on ABC and in 2006 the game was moved to ESPN. The weekly showing is still the event that many fans wait for each week. The week that your team gets to star on the prime time event is always a big deal.

Tailgating in Morgantown, West Virginia takes over the whole town on game day.
Tailgating in Morgantown, West Virginia takes over the whole town on game day. | Source
One of our small spreads on game day. We are not a large group and at this game it was hotdogs and burgers.
One of our small spreads on game day. We are not a large group and at this game it was hotdogs and burgers. | Source
A favorite tailgating past time in at WVU is a bean bag game that is bags of corn. It is called cornhole. The goal is to get the bag in the hole like bean bag toss.
A favorite tailgating past time in at WVU is a bean bag game that is bags of corn. It is called cornhole. The goal is to get the bag in the hole like bean bag toss. | Source
A cornhole game getting going during one of our tailgates.
A cornhole game getting going during one of our tailgates. | Source

Tailgating Fun


My first tailgating experience was in 2007 when I attended my first West Virginia University football game. It was an life changing moment. I have fallen in love with the culture that is tailgating. Spending time with people who share a love for the same team and sport can provide a chance for lifelong friendships. It can also allow for family bonding. I have made many friends at the Mountaineer games, bonded with my cousins and built a stronger bond with my parents. These are just the great emotional gifts of this atmosphere.

The time spent laughing, drinking, eating and playing games are some of the best times you can experience. Our tailgating experience starts with bringing the recreational vehicle or RV to our assign parking lot. (Many people just bring a regularly vehicle and set up a pop up tent.) We usually arrive the night before so that we can start the fun early. The fun usually starts about 11 am, but if there is an early game at noon it might start as early as 9 am. We set up our outdoor television to watch College Game Day on ESPN, put out our cornhole game, set up tables and chairs for the tailgate food. (See the third picture in this section to view a what cornhole game is.)

Hamburgers, hot dogs, chips and salsa are usually favorites for the warmer beginnings of football season. When it starts to get colder we bring out our crock pots and start bring chili and soups. A regional favorite is the pepperoni roll. It is made of a fairly soft white yeast bread with pepperoni baked in the middle. A West Virginia favorite we usually have a batch at each game. If you attend a game for your favorite team there might be a local favorite like this that might be good for you to bring.

The most important part of a tailgate is the people. Even if you have the best food, location, activities and beer it will not be fun without those who make you smile. The fun will continue after the game if there is a win for the home team. I have seen many tailgates go into the early morning hours of the next day so be prepared to not sleep much if you stay at one of the locations in your RV. If the home team does not win the tailgating usually ends and people leave early. There are people who tailgate and do not go to the game. They watch it on television at the tailgate location. I prefer to also go to the game. When you leave for the game make sure to clean up your tailgate area,

A long time college rivalry that even has a name: The Backyard Brawl. Sadly, the rivalry ended in football when WVU moved to a different conference in 2012.
A long time college rivalry that even has a name: The Backyard Brawl. Sadly, the rivalry ended in football when WVU moved to a different conference in 2012. | Source

Rivalries That Last Generations


Rivalries in the world of football can last generations. There is a large market for shirts, hats, flags and bumper stickers showing fan rivalries. Rivalries can be taken so seriously that it can even break up relationships. I have seen this with my own eyes. Rivalries can even last when the teams no longer plays one another. West Virginia and Pittsburgh no longer play one another now that they are in different conferences, but this rivalry could go on for another 50 years. Here is a small list of some the greatest rivalries.

COLLEGE:

  • Alabama/LSU Since 1895
  • Army/Navy Since 1890
  • Pittsburgh/West Virginia "THE BACKYARD BRAWL" 1895-2011
  • Georgia Tech/Virginia Tech "BATTLE OF THE TECHS" Since 1990
  • North Carolina/Duke Since 1888
  • South Carolina/Clemson Since 1896
  • Maryland/West Virginia Since 1919
  • Texas/Texas Tech Since 1928
  • Virginia/Virginia Tech Since 1895

PROFESSIONAL:

  • New York Jets/New England Patriots
  • Green Bay Packers/Minnesota Vikings
  • Chicago Bears/Green Bay Packers
  • Baltimore Ravens/Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Dallas Cowboys/Washington Redskins

One of the many team stores in the college communities around the country.
One of the many team stores in the college communities around the country. | Source
One of my favorite pieces of Mountaineer merchandise is my Halloween pumpkin. I put it out every year.
One of my favorite pieces of Mountaineer merchandise is my Halloween pumpkin. I put it out every year. | Source

Merchandise Of All Types


The world of football merchandise has more items than most people can even imagine. If a college or professional logo can be added to something it usually is. Many fans (including myself) will purchase certain items in multiple styles as well.

For adult clothing alone you have: shirts, hats, belts, shoes, socks, scarves, gloves, jackets, sweaters, underwear, pajamas, jewelry and bags of every type and size.

Kids have another whole category including items from newborn to when they are ready to enter adult sizes. Items for kids also include infant and toddler care items, toys and nursery décor.

Items for the home include: glassware, clocks, bedding, bathroom décor, stationary, furniture, wall décor, frames, rugs and kitchen décor. There are items for the yard including: flags, weather vanes, banners, mailbox covers, garden décor and even a grill cover.

There are items for pets and vehicles that have smaller selections, as well as holiday themed items including Christmas and Halloween designs.

The most purchased items behind apparel fall under the tailgating category. These items are perfect to celebrate on game day before heading into the stadium. These items include: chairs, tables, tents, coolers, BBQ accessories, party supplies and outdoor games.

This is a list of the different items available with team logos I can remember without research. The items can be purchased on internet sites, at team stores and at major sports retailers. The local team stores can be more expensive than online and the stores rarely have discounts while the online sites will have them seasonally.

Tom Brady and his model wife, Gisele. The couple is featured regularly in tabloid magazines.
Tom Brady and his model wife, Gisele. The couple is featured regularly in tabloid magazines. | Source
Former football star, O.J. Simpson has spent his time since retiring from the game in the headlines for multiple arrests.
Former football star, O.J. Simpson has spent his time since retiring from the game in the headlines for multiple arrests. | Source

Is In All Types Of Media For Many Reasons


Football is not something that is only covered on sports channels. The players are often in pop culture media because of their relationships and arrests. Player contracts and incidents during an important game can be covered in national news as well. The firing of New York Jets player Tim Tebow was a topic just today as I started writing this hub. His release from the Jets was featured on FOX NEWS. He has been a media topic since he entered the professional game in 2010. The act of "Tebowing" became a well known. The act of kneeling on one knee in prayer with one's head resting on one's fist was given that name in the media. During the 2012 season with the Jets, Tebow only threw 8 passes, but stayed in the news as much for his "Tebowing" as for his lack of playing. This is only one example of a football player becoming a star for a reason other than his ability on the field. Some players become famous for being handsome like a Hollywood star and are given chances to pose for calendars and posters including players like New England Patriot, Tom Brady and Chicago Bears, Jay Cutler.

Three of the top reasons for players to be featured in non-sports national news are their relationships, arrests and being spokesman for different products. Here are five examples in each category. There are many more in each category, but that would be a long list.

Couples:

  • Reality Star, Kim Kardashian and Miami Dolphain Quarterback, Reggie Bush (Past relationship)
  • Designer and reality star, Jessica Simpson and Dallas Cowboys Quarterback, Tony Romo (Past relationship)
  • Model, Gisele Bundchen and New England Patriots Quarterback, Tom Brady (Married)
  • Television Personality, Kristin Cavallari and Chicago Bears Quarterback, Jay Cutler (Engaged)
  • Reality Star and spokeswoman, Kendra Wilkerson and former Indianapolis Colts Wide Receiver, Hank Baskett (Married)

Arrests:

  • Plaxico Burress (New York Giants) was arrested for reckless endangerment and unlawful carrying of a handgun. He shot himself in the leg and served 2 years in jail.
  • Michael Vick (Atlanta Falcons) was arrested for gambling and animal cruelty in connection with his dog fighting ring. He served two years.
  • Chad Johnson formerly Chad Ochocinco (Miami Dolphins) was arrested for domestic violence (he headbutted his new wife), who has since filed for divorce. He accepted a plea deal in the case and did not serve time.
  • Rae Carruth (Carolina Panthers) was arrested for conspiracy to commit 1st degree murder, shooting into an occupied vehicle, using an instrument to destroy an unborn child in 2001. He is serving 25 years for the crime that killed his girlfriend and left their child disabled.
  • O.J. Simpson (Buffalo Bills) was acquitted for the murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend, Ron Goldman in 1995 in what was billed as "The Trial Of The Century". Simpson was not as lucky the second time around and is serving a 33 year sentence for the 2007 crimes of armed robbery, kidnapping and more in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Spokesmen:

  • Peyton Manning (Denver Broncos) has been in ads for Direct TV, Sprint, ESPN, Papa John's Pizza, Buick and Gatorade.
  • Tom Brady (New England Patriots) has been in ads for Under Armour and Uggs.
  • Brett Favre (Green Bay Packers) has been in ads for Wrangler, Master Card, Nike, Sears and Remington.
  • Eli Manning (New York Giants) has been in ads for Reebok, Citizen Watch, Samsung, Direct TV, Nabisco’s Oreo and Gatorade.
  • Ray Lewis (Baltimore Ravens former player) has been in ads for Reebok, Old Spice, NFL Network and Under Armour.

The Washington Redskins schedule for the 2013 season.
The Washington Redskins schedule for the 2013 season. | Source

Watching Your Team Is A Weekly Event


I admit I watch multiple football games a week. I watch college football on Saturday and NFL football on Sunday. I also try not to miss Thursday night and Monday night football in prime time. This is because I just love the game. If you are just learning to like the game you can stick to the one game a week schedule. Many women love that their football team only plays once a week. If you have a busy schedule this is the way to go. Once you are sucked in to the sport you can start watching the games of rival teams and games that are just listed as big events. My favorite college team is The West Virginia Mountaineers as you can tell from this article, but I also follow other teams that they play. My favorite professional team is the Washington Redskins, but I also watch games of their rivals including the Dallas Cowboys and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

This is a cute party setup.
This is a cute party setup. | Source

A Reason To Through A Party


If you cannot attend a game in person throwing a party at home can be fun too. There are many ways to make it more interesting.

Some ideas for making the game more just than just a typical Sunday:

  • Balloons in the shape of footballs or with team colors get people in the spirit. If you have a team flag hang it up near the food area.
  • Buffets are a great way to serve your game snacks. There is great table décor available at party supple stores. However, you can just buy plates, napkins and cups in your team colors too.
  • To decorate tables use any football items you might have at home such as a football helmet or toy footballs.
  • Great food ideas include: chicken wings, chips and salsa, M&M's candy in team colors, and if you have a crock pot put on some chili. Make sure to have some soft drinks and beer to go along with all the snacks.
  • If children are not attending you can set up beer pong during half time to keep the fun going.
  • If children are attending get them to help them with the decorating. Outlines of football can be found online. Print out copies and cut them out. Give the kids some markers or colored pencils and have them decorate the pictures. They can then be put around the party room.
  • During those big plays it is fun to have pom-poms, mega phones or any other nosy makers you can think of to make things more exciting.
  • Most importantly, always ask a close friend who is attending if they have any other ideas to make the game even more fun. You never know what they might suggest.

This is a great action shot from a Pittsburgh Steelers and Indianapolis Colts game.
This is a great action shot from a Pittsburgh Steelers and Indianapolis Colts game. | Source
This is another great action shot. This time it is a game with the Miami Dolphins and the Carolina Panthers.
This is another great action shot. This time it is a game with the Miami Dolphins and the Carolina Panthers. | Source

The Action Never Stops


In the game of football the action never stops. Even when the game has a time outs things are interesting. The calls are regularly in dispute. The plays are reviewed regularly and the fans tell the referees how they feel about those calls being very vocal. The game is fast paced and the players show of their athletic abilities regularly. As the photos in this section show the players amazing skills. The announcers also keep the game moving. This is not a golf game. You have to keep your eyes on the game or the score could change in moments.

I hope you are not interested in experiencing this wonder game whether at your own home or attending a game at a stadium. If you have any great ideas to make the football world even more interesting please share in the comments.

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