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Charlie Hatton
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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

Talkin’ Football

I’ll be tickled pink like a pigskin when the NFL players and owners get their collective (bargaining) act together and agree to have a football season already. I’m eager not because I’m anxious for football to start — it’s only barely spring around here, for crissakes — nor because I’m afraid that they’ll pack up the jock straps and forgo the season altogether. Rather, my reason for wanting an agreement in place is both simple and selfish:

I want people to frigging stop asking me about it.

Sure, I understand — to a point. This sporting snafu is on a lot of people’s minds right now. The labor talks have stalled, there are court decisions being judicially decreed, and the NFL draft is this weekend — it started last night, evidently; who starts anything important on a Thursday? — and football fans want to know whether these young stars will be in uniform this year, or whether teams just acquired their rights to sit on their thumbs and play Madden on XBox for nine months out of the year.

I get it. ‘Hot topic’. Lot of buzz. Sure.

But what the hell do I have to do with it?

“I don’t watch football for the articles. If I wanted to follow a bunch of complicated legal and financial arguments, I’d have shown up for my court dates, ever.”

Sure, I watch professional football — even make it to a few of the games. I might be able, on a given play, to give some straight-faced and nominally accurate description of what’s happening on the field. But this behind-the-scenes jockeying and preening? I’ve got less clue then the next guy what the hell it’s all about. I don’t watch football for the articles. If I wanted to follow a bunch of complicated legal and financial arguments, I’d have shown up for my court dates, ever. No thanks, coach.

As this football brouhaha has dragged on in recent weeks, there have emerged three distinct types of people who seem to want to chit-chat about it with me, regardless of my palpable lack of interest in the details. These are:

People Who Don’t Watch Football:

Most people who don’t care about football do a proper job of it, and don’t give half a fire-retardant commemorative Super Bowl potholder whether the games ever get played or not.


Some of these people have pretty odd tastes. I suppose that’s to be expected — if you swear off football, who knows what kind of nonsense will seem like ‘fun’ to you? I mean, some of them listen to NPR, for goodness sakes. For entertainment! This is uncharted territory, is what I’m saying.

For some subset of these non-football watchers, this labor discussion clicks with some other interest of theirs. Maybe they did a paper on unions in college, or read an article about management lockouts or legal injunctions. Or at least know what those things are.

Maybe they always secretly wanted a career as a professional third-party mediator. I can’t tell you where these people went wrong. If they believe football is the debbil and wish their job was the vocational equivalent of Switzerland minus the cheese and the watches and the kickass tall mountains, then that’s their business. Someday, they’ll have to answer to their god for such decisions.

(And won’t they be surprised when it turns out to be Vince Lombardi?)

In me, these people evidently see a likely discussion partner. I’m into football — and they’re into this one ‘football thing‘; they’re so very proud of themselves — so we should totally talk about this thing that we have in common, and let’s be best friends and tattoo each others’ middle names on our inner thighs because that’s what ‘besties’ do in their world, probably because they heard it on some prison documentary. On NPR.

Meanwhile, we really don’t have this ‘thing’ in common. I care about the football part; they care about the finances or the mediation or what color suits the player reps are wearing to the meetings. And ne’er the twain shall meet. There’s really no common ground to discuss.

(It’s like going to a strip club with an old lady who scrapbooks pasties. I don’t have any opinions about the color of the things, or what they’re made from, or whether they clash with the leopard print G-strings and body sparkles. And she’s not interested in what’s rubbing up against them. It’s like we’re comparing apples and cantaloupes. Where the apples smell like sweat and desperate, and no one’s allowed to touch the cantaloupes.

Though it is one episode of Hoarders that I’d probably tune in for.)

So they’ll ask me about equitable compensation plans or the latest court-mandated mediation wrinkle, and I’ll have no clue what they’re on about. Unless ‘revenue sharing’ and ‘player pension plans’ are some kind of new after-touchdown celebration dance moves, then I’m not so interested. Or knowledgeable. Or able to spell the big words coming out of your mouth. What are we, George Plimpton? Give it a rest, pigskin poindexters.

Various Concerned Ladyfolk

I know several women with at least a passing interest in the NFL — some who like to watch, some who tolerate the games, and some who just want to know which weeks they can make a Sunday shopping trip unhindered. And it seems like they’ve all asked me recently:

So what’s up with this football work dealie? Are they going to play this year?

I don’t know how I became the ‘go-to guy’ for this sort of information. Or anything else, frankly. I’ve never provided reliable data on… well, anything, so far as I can remember. These girls have access to the same stories I would read — and most of them know more of the big words than I do. My football reading is strictly limited to box scores and captions on blooper reels.

So how did I become a font of expected knowledge all of a sudden? Are they so little interested that they’d rely on me for predictions? Are they asking every guy they know, and triangulating the ridiculous bullshit answers we give? Is it that since I know something about football, I should know everything about football? By that logic, any girl who shops at Victoria’s Secret should be able to get me Heidi Klum’s autograph.

(For the record, I don’t recommend using this logic. Particularly if it involves loudly demanding same of every patron at your local Vicky’s Secret store.

The mall cops have tasers now. Not a good time.)

People Who LIVE for Football

Then there are the people whose entire reason for being revolves around football. They paint their aging Wagoneers in team colors, wear replica jerseys to weddings and funerals and name their children after the local team’s offensive coordinator.

(If the trend also holds in Tennessee, then I apologize on behalf of the rest of humanity to all the little Heimerdingers running around down there. Ouch.)

These people are so desperate for news about football — ANY news about football — that they’ve dug themselves elbow-deep into this labor talk. Only they don’t understand it any more than I do, so they tend to treat the proceedings as though it were some sort of fantasy litigation league:

Yeah, dude! I totally had the judge ruling for the players today. I knew when I drafted her on my bench back before the hearings started, I knew she was going to get us to the playoffs. Oh yeah!

These are the same people who’ll wax poetic about their rock-solid tight ends and their quarterback’s tight zippy balls. In public.

Come to think of it, maybe talking about the work stoppage is an improvement in this case. I think I’m better off chatting with one of these people when neither of us know what the hell we’re talking about.

Sign me up for a appellate judge and give me the Vegas odds on overturning the latest ruling. I’m back in the game, baby!

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