MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif --
During football season there is an ever-present battle. A battle for the title. Players in high school fight for a spot on the varsity team and eventually a spot on a collegiate team. College players train day-in and day-out to prove they are worthy of playing with the big boys. But the ultimate goal for any serious football player, from high school to the National Football League, is to win a championship. People may say professional players already made it, but they are constantly competing against each other for that starting position and a spot on next season’s roster. The fight is endless. Countless time of studying tape, quarterback’s throwing the same pass over and over and wide-receivers running the same routes. They must strive for perfection. The players eat, sleep and breathe football.
The game is a battle as soon as they step onto the field. One yard at a time, they claw their way to victory. Though the fans are not on the field with the players, absorbing the hard hits, there is one thing they do share and that is passion for the game.
NFL fans are recognized as some of the most die-hard sports fans in the nation. For true fans, no matter how well their team performed last year, every year is a potential super bowl year.
The ultimate display of true fandom is the ritual of donning face and body paint. It is a regular occurrence come game day and some football enthusiasts will even ‘paint up’ to cheer from their living room with little concern about ruining the carpet or furniture. The belief is that screaming at a television can inspire a wide-receiver to stretch that extra inch, make the one-handed grab and get a first down.
The full experience however, is to take all of that energy out of the living room and into the world by showing up to the stadium hours before the game to tailgate. Securing a spot to barbeque and amp-up before the game. This is also a time to greet opposing fans with glares and friendly banter in the form of snide remarks leaving no question of who’s team is superior.
They are bound by a team spirit, a spirit embodied by ‘high-fives’ and ‘chest-bumps’ when their team scores. A spirit, which can also be crushed when their team loses. It is a bond that goes as far as hundreds of strangers uniting in hopes that their team will overcome the opposing force to get one more ‘W’ as they near the playoffs.
This is just the beginning of the season. The beginning of many friendships and rivalries. An ebb and flow like the change of seasons. No matter what life brings during the week, there is always something to look forward to on the weekend. A weekend full of hard hits, amazing catches and underdogs finding a way to win. So gear up and dig in because it’s that glorious time of year again. It’s football season.