There are two kinds of women in this world: Those who claim to like watching football with their husbands or boyfriends; and those who don't pretend to enjoy it, no matter how hard they’ve tried to tolerate it. Despite my former single life as a "guy's girl," I am one of those women who has grown to abhor all forms of spectator sports. When watching games used to consist of Super Bowl or March Madness parties, I could get into the spirit with the best of them. But now, as a wife and mom who works full time and is away from her family for 50 hours a week (and just can't get away with day-drinking on weekends like I used to), watching football is a form of slow and painful torture for me.
Case in point: ESPN is on constant rotation in my house. So thank god we have two televisions: Jay has the living room TV, and I have the bedroom TV. Every minute of the day that he’s home, his TV is either tuned to SportsCenter or whatever local game is on. It's all just noise to me. The only thing I even came close to caring about recently was "Hard Knocks," a documentary-style miniseries on HBO, following an NFL team during its pre-season training camp. It was sort of like a reality show for sports, so of course it interested me. But let's be honest: I'd still rather watch re-runs of The Real Housewives of New Jersey Reunion, parts one and two.
I've tried for years to care about sports, mostly because Jay is a huge sports nut. He’s a season ticket holder for the Bulls, and has been since Michael Jordan brought them to six championships in the ‘90s, so his seats are pretty freaking amazing. I don’t mind the occasional Bulls game, ya know like maybe one a season, but I wish I could be one of those cool wives who watches football with their husbands on Sundays. I wish I wanted to fry up buffalo chicken wings, make seven layer dips and serve beers all day long to my husband and his buddies while they yell at the TV. Actually, football food and the camaraderie are about the only things I do like about sports. But the games themselves? Nope, don’t care, don’t want to care, don’t want to waste my weekends inside watching them. Want nothing to do with them.
Isn’t it enough that I work for Playboy, and work with men all day who talk about sports? I’m even producing an NFL photo gallery with one of our Playmates modeling the jerseys and T-shirts from each of the 12 teams that Playboy magazine has picked to go to the playoffs this year. I know more than I’ve ever wanted to know about the 2010 NFL season. I’ve earned my “cool wife” wings, if you ask me.
So now that we have a son, Jay's greatest pleasure is putting Preston in his Bears T-shirt, and watching football with him. Though it's not just NFL football Jay cares about; Saturdays are all about college football. And not just one or two games, we’re talking ALL of them, every Saturday and every Sunday. In his former single life, he would be able to sit on the couch all day, or go to a bar, and waste his hours like this. But in our current married-with-kids life, there’s no way in hell I’m allowing it.
The last two Saturdays I gave him a free pass, and he took Preston to a bar in our neighborhood to watch the college games with his cousins. I even came to meet them for some of it on Saturday, and while seeing Preston hang out with his older male cousins watching football is quite adorable, I don’t want him spending his weekends in front of a TV (or 20 TVs, in this case). Once in a while I don’t mind it, and I’ll even join them for the food and beer—once in a while—but I don’t want to set a precedent that this is how we’re spending our weekends for the entire football season, for the rest of our lives.
But now this is where the wife guilt comes into play: I also don’t want to totally rob Jay of his favorite pastime. He so looks forward to football season, like most men do, and if he’s not watching the games, he’s looking up scores, texting with his buddies about games and players and whatnot. Football is to Jay what The Bachelor is to me, a guilty pleasure that he feels little to no guilt about (but Jay watches The Bachelor too, so it’s not a totally fair comparison).
I know it’s normal male behavior to love sports like this, but I’ve made it crystal clear that we’re not watching football all weekend, every weekend, until February. It's not like I would watch The Bachelor (or Bachelorette, or The Bachelor Pad) every weekend if it was on that much. (I really wouldn't!) So other than enrolling Preston in another music class or taking him to Gymboree classes this winter, anything that will keep us busy—as a family—what else can I do to make everyone happy? I am not revolving my fall and winter weekends around this nonsense. It’s just not happening. But I want everyone to feel like they're getting to do what they want on weekends.
How do you handle football season with your husband and kids?