Photo by Blackregis

Love and Football

Are you 14?

That was the initial reaction I had, teasing my son’s grandmother about her new obsession.  But I get ahead of myself.

When I was growing up near Nashville, there wasn’t a professional football team. The closest we got to pro sports was a minor league baseball team, so our family focused mainly on watching and rooting for college sports. Yet, I found myself drawn to watching the NFL with the growing popularity of Monday Night Football and became a superfan of the Dallas Cowboys. It’s not a coincidence they were the most popular team at the time.

Football remained my favorite sport to watch for most of my life, until a brief pause after the controversies over brain damage and Black Lives Matter. I have participated in an all-female fantasy football league for many years and have acknowledged the hypocrisy in loving football, but not wanting my son to play the brutal sport. In other words, I know football.

When I began dating Mr. Carter’s other mother, we would regularly watch football on the weekends, and in the near-decade of our relationship, I never once heard her mother have any commentary on the sport. Nine Super Bowls came and went during our time together, and Mama Jo was never part of the festivities.

A few weeks ago, while watching the playoffs, I was surprised to receive a text from her regarding the Kansas City Chiefs. Curious, I asked her why she was suddenly interested.

Swifty, baby!

Shaking my head, I asked if she was a teenager and she replied:

It’s all about fashion!

I was aware of the attention Taylor Swift brought to her relationship with Kansas City’s tight end, Travis Kelce, but I dismissed the media fanfare as silly. Now that it had reached my own family, I found it just as silly and rolled my eyes at this fanatic behavior. After a moment, though, I realized something wonderful was going on: a straight woman was embracing sports.

I know plenty of straight women love sports, but I know far more lesbians who do. What I appreciate about watching sports is that it’s a built-in social activity. It also taps into our natural territorial instinct for competition without requiring us to kill anyone, and despite the heartache a losing season can bring, the elation from a victory can carry you for days. Regardless of the outcome, it’s never boring, and I have committed to purchasing the apparel of every player who has come out as gay. So far, that’s two T-shirts.

I stopped teasing Mama Jo and instead have become a football consultant for her, answering any questions about the game that she asks. I love that she is taking her preparation for the Super Bowl seriously and cannot wait to see what kind of fashion she plans to wear for the big game. Yes, she plans to throw her first-ever Super Bowl party.

Romantic love can inspire others to do things they have never tried before. Watching Taylor and Travis’ romance has made Mr. Carter’s Mimi a football fan, and I have no problem with that.