Some blame football for inflicting Joe Theismann on the world. (Source: U.S. Navy photo by Chief Warrant Officer Seth Rossman)
Shaun Schillinger (left), safety, and Bear Woods, linebacker, of the Atlanta Falcons play a video game at Fort McPherson in 2010. The memorably named Woods now plays with the CFL's Montreal Alouettes. (Source: U.S. Army photo by Kevin Stabinsky)
(RNN) - Some have little reason to celebrate when football season rolls around.
They support perpetually horrible teams, like the Cleveland Browns, or hold a grudge against football for unleashing Joe Theismann and his horrible prostate commercials on the public. Let's face it: If it weren't for his gridiron career making him a pseudo-celebrity, Theismann would be complaining about "the water hazards of life" to only his wife and poker buddies.
Maybe some just don't dig football, period, and have the misfortune to live in an area where it is a big deal.
The sport is responsible for countless knee injuries and concussions - and that's just from cheer pyramid collapses. Its rivalries clog Facebook feeds with endless memes, banter and 300 versions of the same old, tired jokes.
It's inescapable, like the Kardashians. Wait at the local oil-change joint on any given Saturday morning, and the TV in the waiting room will likely be tuned to ESPN during a hourslong college football preview. It features an old guy who likes to wear mascot heads and infuriate the screaming fans on whichever college campus he and his colleagues happen to invade that week.
With the proliferation of TV sets even in mom and pop eateries, diners cannot escape whatever game of the week the locals find compelling.
The game itself is a colorful but ultimately overhyped waste of time, kind of like the Kardashians. A bunch of big, often unathletic-looking bruisers in body armor line up to counter another set of big, padded bruisers. Some of these guys are posed in awkward positions, in particular the guy who gives the quarterback the ball from between his legs.
Numbers are yelled out, and then there's movement, people colliding and falling. Sometimes a ball is thrown. There is talk of I-formations, Hail Marys and quarterback sneaks. Then a whistle blows, and they line up to do the same thing again.
Sometimes, the officials have to measure things or toss yellow handkerchiefs, which slows everything to a crawl as they huddle to decide what to say over the crackling microphone that no one will be able to hear. There may even be instant replay, which slows things down even more as experts study a play from 20 different angles.
If it's professional football, it's one set of millionaires against another, purportedly to defend the honor of whichever city's team is paying them.
And then there's college football, a multimillion-dollar industry fueled by the exploitation of children, many of whom not only don't go on to the NFL - they don't gain a worthwhile education or (legally) earn a dime from the efforts that enrich others.
So how's a nonfan to cope with the long months of football?
Cliff Clavin it up
Beat football fans at their own game by knowing more trivia than they do. For those who are history buffs, there's plenty of it to be had. For instance, there are some college football rivalries with interesting trophies, such as the Fremont Cannon, once used in the UNLV vs. Nevada-Reno rivalry.
There's probably some small nugget of knowledge someone can trot out to add to any conversation. What's with all those mascots? How many Ugas have there been? If you're a numbers nerd, there are enough numbers to make even Moneyball fans happy.
However, don't be too insufferable, or you may never be invited to a football party again. Then again if that's the point, go for it.
Find the fun
In every less-than-pleasant thing, people can find an element of fun - a spoonful of sugar that may make that oblong ball a little more palatable.
College football has had some fun names over the years. Troy once had a player named Bear Woods, who looked like a refugee from a Southern Rock group. And then there's John David Booty, a name that elicits giggles from 9-year-old boys and those with similar sensitivities.
Of course, personalities like Tim Tebow, with his tears, Tebowing and mediocre skills, and Manti Te'o, with his invisible girlfriend and mediocre skills, makes things more interesting until the 500th joke or internet meme.
It's also fun to watch other people having fun, particularly passionate fans, even if you don't share their passion. It's like watching little children opening presents on Christmas Day - still thrilling even if you don't believe in Santa Claus, and you don't even have to buy presents.
Consume mass quantities
Football season is a glutton's dream, and one need not be a football fan to take part in all the traditional unhealthy food associated with enjoying an athletic contest - Buffalo wings, nachos, pizza and beverages.
Dream up a football party and buy a bunch of supplies purportedly for such a gathering. And when you load up the grocery cart, people will assume there's some sort of event going on at your house, even if you decide to just rewatch The Walking Dead. Then turn up the sound loud enough to drown out the neighbors hooting over the latest touchdown or dropped pass.
Be a fan?
Some nonfans attempt football fandom, but be warned. For areas where football is extremely virulent, picking a team comes with risks, including minor property damage to team license plates and the occasional brutal smacktalk from the fans of rival teams. These irritants can be difficult for an ambivalent fan to bear.
On the bright side, one can engage in brutal smacktalk and silly regional generalizations, too - i.e., dissing the other team's fans because of their lack of dental hygiene, corn-dog odor, etc. Classy people, though, don't inflict property damage or engage in fisticuffs. No one looks good in prison orange.
Note that it is bad form to blindly decide to support a team that happens to be winning. It's often called jumping on the bandwagon, and such fair-weather fans open themselves to ridicule from hardcore fans, particularly when the chosen team starts losing and the hop-ons choose to bail.
Those who choose not to choose should make sure to wear "neutral" colors. For example, in Alabama, that means avoiding the wearing of orange and crimson (even burgundy) during football season. It's particularly bad around November, unless you like being screamed at by an obnoxious old man in a grocery store parking lot. (Yes, this happens.)
It also helps not to live in Alabama at all.
Pull a Snowden
No, don't expose delicate national secrets to Glenn Greenwald a la leaker Edward Snowden. Probably the best way to avoid American football is to leave the country, as the U.S. national sport has limited global appeal. Plus, no Kardashians.
Be warned: you'll encounter that other football, what people in the U.S. call soccer, and its own related hooliganism.
Also, overseas, there may be limited access to the life-shortening, fattening food items associated with football. Those Siberian winters are a little colder without the extra layers of insulation.
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