Opinion | I don’t know how football works, but please don’t tell me

By Jameson Keebler, Staff Columnist

Football is one of the most popular college sports in America, so it’s no surprise that students love game day. Even though I can’t tell a lineman from a quarterback, I have my own priorities on gameday.

Football games are not always a welcoming experience, especially for women. We grow up confined to the activities and interests of our gender, only to be mocked later for not knowing about things, like football, we were often discouraged from watching and learning about.

Also, it is hard to learn football’s rules. It’s too often that I overhear genuine questions about the sport which are met with laughs and eye rolls, especially when it is a woman asking a man. 

I recognize that not all girls have the same football experience, as many of my girlfriends have attempted explaining why the game always starts with a guy kicking the ball as hard as he can only for no one to even try to catch it.

In highschool I was a cheerleader and always stood with my back to the field. So when I arrived at Pitt, I had never really watched an entire football game. At this point, I’ll probably never learn the rules of the game and need to find other things to appreciate instead.

Football is about so much more than what is happening on the field. It’s called game day for a reason, and that is because it also incorporates everything that happens before and after the game. 

Something that I appreciate about football is the opportunity it gives me to play dress-up. While Pitt is not quite like the University of Alabama, where girls stick out if they don’t drop hundreds on their game-day outfits, a certain level of cuteness and craftiness is expected. It will not always be socially acceptable to wear half of a T-shirt and body glitter, so I’m making sure I take full advantage of this opportunity now.

For me, it’s become a ritual to go to Chas Bonsorte’s shop on the on the corner of Forbes Avenue and Bigelow Boulevard to dig through the bins of XXL tees and holding them up to my friends and saying, “it’s OK, but what if I cropped it?”

We’ve all had the experience of laying out a tee as flat as possible on the bed, measuring where to cut, but immediately going haywire as soon as you realize that it is way harder to cut a straight line in fabric than you thought. My tip is to cut the shirt an inch longer than you want it because, for some reason, it will always end up shorter than you expect it to. 

Football also provides the perfect opportunity to indulge in all of the plastic accessories that Amazon has to offer, including blue and yellow sunglasses and butterfly hair clips that were designed with toddlers in mind. 

My favorite part of Pitt football happens before the game even starts. The adrenaline that I get when that little intro song plays, and it’s time to recite Pitt football stats together with the entire student section is like nothing else. And now, in that little montage, we get an addition that anyone who was around for last season would say was worthy. As soon as Kenny Picket’s face flashes on the screen, it fills us with joy.

As a New Jersey native, I consider Pickett my hometown hero — despite him not being from my actual hometown. Even if I know nothing about football, I know that Kenny is a Pitt icon based on his fantastic mullet alone. 

Besides the football players, the stars of the games, in my eyes, are the members of the marching band. Whenever they take the field doing their jog with their tall hats, nostalgia from middle school band takes over, and I am ecstatic.

Although it is fun, the game must come to an end at some point, and for most, that is immediately after singing “Sweet Caroline.” By then, the body glitter has rubbed off, and that one water bottle that you are allowed to bring into the stadium is long gone. That’s when we fight for our lives to get onto the student shuttles. 

Those who lived through the chaos of trying to get back to campus after the West Virginia game will understand that it can be a war to get on those shuttles, but no matter how bad it is, I always want to go back.

College football is about so much more than the game on the field. It is about the outfits, silly chants, and the heroes that we make out of the athletes. Most of all, it is about coming together with your classmates and experiencing it all together.

Jameson Keebler writes primarily about pop culture and current events. Write to her at [email protected].