Hundreds of years ago, when we were children, watching football was both enjoyable and uncomplicated. Crisp Sundays meant nestling into the couch with your family — maybe with a pile of Sunday funnies and Toys ‘R’ Us ads — to spend the afternoon enjoying honorable sport, indulging in civic pride and humming along to “The Super Bowl Shuffle.” This went on for many blissful years, until one day football got REAL REAL complicated, and there was Twitter, and concussion research, and the politics of White House visits, and Penn State. Today, being a football fan involves not just knocking back beers with your family but determining where you stand on about 600 tricky social, ethical and political issues. Frankly, it’s enough to make anyone long for laying around reading Garfield. Do you know how bad things must get to make people long for Garfield? REAL F**KING BAD.
So can you still be a football fan and an ethically upstanding human being? Short answer: Probably not! But who cares? You don’t have to be even an ethically sporadic human being to be president, which is the exact kind of tortured, backbreaking logic we’re about to employ to justify still having fun on Sundays, and Mondays, and Saturdays, aaaaand Thursdays. (Are they still doing Thursdays? Has Tom Brady used his Russia connections and magician’s powers to shut that down?) Here are some ways you can still watch football for the reason God intended: to watch freakish human giants abuse each other while you inhale jalapeno poppers while wearing 23-year-old gym shorts.
How to handle the National Anthem
Don’t show up! Conveniently enough, the National Anthem is sung pretty much in the same time slot before every game, which means you can plan well in advance to not be around for any of it. While others are in the stands trying to determine if kneeling makes you a high-ranking ISIS commander or standing up means you have Ronnie Van Zant tattooed on your back next to the soaring eagle and/or AK-47, you can be in the concessions line waiting for nachos. Do you hate America if you purposefully avoid the anthem? NO SIR. Do you avoid being implicated in a Twitter battle among idiots you don’t know? YEPPERS. Bonus: the nachos.
How to handle concussions
As you may have read from (checks notes) years and years of quantitative medical research, many players suffer concussions and spend the bulk of their post-game press conference answering questions from the shower heads. And while we can all appreciate the primal power of a well-placed hit or expert block, nobody likes to see people’s brains get scrambled. The solution: Maybe make some rule against helmet-to-helmet contact? Cheer less when people aim at other players’ heads, even when those heads are attached to New England Patriots? People are going to hit in football, which is what we all signed up for — we’re pretty sure these guys can cover their high deductibles — but maybe cheer more for the clean hits than the Stone Cold Stunners.
How to handle your team going/not going to the White House
First, let us ask you this: Who DOES want to visit the White House? Ugh, the traffic, and then getting knocked around by all the plump selfie stick-rocking bus tourists. Don’t even get us started on having to pay for parking/lunch in D.C. Also White House tours aren’t fun, with all the “Don’t touch that” and “No, you can’t open that door,” and the “Sir, please get out of Abraham Lincoln’s bed.” Throw out this whole antiquated idea. From now on, championship-winning sports teams should just go to Cabo, like everybody else.
How to handle talking about Colin Kaepernick on Twitter
There is only one sport in America more violent than football, and that is engaging in Twitter fusillades with fat strangers about a backup quarterback. So do them both at the same time! With one valuable thumb, you can clickity-clack around NFL RedZone like the attention-deficit sack of Pop Rocks that you are, while with the other, you can retweet Laura Ingraham or Patton Oswalt or — this f**king sentence will never make sense — the actual president of the United States. If you’re skilled enough at all this, and jam enough chicken wings down your throat, you can actually make your heart blow up by the time the Carrie Underwood song comes on.
How to handle talking about Colin Kaepernick with your family:
Oh God, never do this, are you nuts?
How to handle Urban Meyer and Penn State
Will have to get back to you on these.