Football a game best watched in person

Until very recently, I had forgotten how much fun it is to attend a football game in person.
My prolonged absence from football was not due to a lack of interest in the game—I really enjoy football—but instead due to circumstances beyond my control.
For instance, I spent the early part of this decade working and travelling throughout Asia. And while there are lots of fabulous things to see and do in the Far East, attending football games is not one of them.
Upon returning to North America, I decided to go back to school and was accepted into Humber College’s post-graduate journalism program in Toronto.
Anyone who’s ever tried to be a student in Toronto can attest to the fact that most months you’re simply happy to have enough money to pay your rent. If you’re really lucky, you may even have enough money left over to eat something relatively healthy.
Luxuries such as football games, concerts, and fruit just aren’t feasible.
On a side note, it never ceases to amaze me—looking back on my time as a student—that there was always money for beer. How did beer trump fruit on the list of necessities? It’s a miracle my friends and I made it through school without scurvy.
But I digress.
To make what is now a very long story short, I hadn’t been to a football game since the late 1990s when I used to attend the occasional Ottawa Rough Riders/Renegades game.
I’m not even sure those games should be classified as football considering how bad the home team was.
To put some perspective on the futility displayed by those who called Lansdowne Park (later re-named Frank Clair Stadium) home, the Rough Riders/Renegades managed just one trip to the Grey Cup during my lifetime—and they lost.
Normally that wouldn’t be such a big deal but in a league which has never had more than 13 teams competing for the title, you’d think the Riders would have gotten lucky one season out of the nearly 30 that I’ve been alive and won it all.
But I digress—again.
Needless to say, I like going to football games.
So, I was excited to cover the Muskies’ opening game of the Winnipeg High School Football League season against the Kildonan East Eagles this past Friday.
And what was I most looking forward to? The sounds of the game. If you get a chance, go to a game early some time and just listen as both teams warm up.
It’s a pretty amazing thing to hear a group of people work themselves into an absolute frenzied state before a minute of the game is played.
Two friends of mine, who just happen to be female and don’t know very much about football, stopped by last week’s game to check it out knowing I could answer any questions they might have about the game.
Their first question after exactly three minutes of standing on the sidelines? “Are the players always this intense?”
To which I, of course, replied in the affirmative.
Their question got me to thinking, though, about when I used to play offensive tackle for the Myers Riders Football Club back in Ottawa as a teenager.
I used to yell and scream and carry on with the best of them when it was time to play.
Now it just seems like a whole lot effort.
Someone should do a scientific study correlating increased body mass (i.e., getting older and fatter) with mellowing out. I’d bet my copy of “Madden 2007” there is a strong relationship between the two variables.
Last digression—I promise.
The other sound I have come to love and associate specifically with football is that of contact. There is a distinct noise made when two people crash into each other at a high rate of speed.
The noise just so happens to be amplified on the football field because the players are wearing a suit of space-age plastic to protect themselves.
I’m sure there are those of you who will call me a barbarian for enjoying the crunching sound a good hit makes, but I don’t care. There is nothing better in sports than hearing someone get hit hard—especially if your playing days are behind you and you are safely on the sidelines.
The sounds of the game are just one reason why you should get out to a Muskie game this season. Here are five more:
1. The home team looks good this year. Sure we’re only one game into the season, but I think I’ve seen enough to predict good things for the Muskies this year.
They are a well-coached bunch and have some good young talent.
2. Running back Terry Carmody. The featured offensive player for the Muskies is fast and runs with power. He’ll beat players to the corner one play and run over them the next.
3. Fullback Allen “Gus” Hunsperger and the offensive line. First of all, how great is it the fullback’s nickname is Gus?
Hunsperger plays the role of fullback to perfection—knocking linebackers out of the hole for Carmody. The offensive line is extremely young but has the potential to be dominant.
They’re going to be fun to watch as they continue to progress throughout the year.
4. The defence. The Muskies play a very aggressive style defensively swarming to the ball and pounding the ball carrier. They should be able to force opposing offences into a lot of three and out series this season.
5. Game time. The Muskies play their home games at 3 p.m. What better excuse is there to duck out of work a little early?
Sports are great on their own. Sports during company time are even better.

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