One of my goals for the fall is to follow the Redskins and pay attention, as a true son of Northern Virginia should. Football is a sport I actually don't suck too badly at, but I usually don't follow the sport very closely because (a) I don't spend a lot of time watching sports on TV and (b) I'm not entirely sure that I totally understand the rules 100%. Sometimes I ask L stupid questions like, "what exactly is an offensive line?" or "remind me again how downs work," and she starts to explain it, and then I get mad because I knew it all along and then I look like an idiot.
The big difference this year, though, is that some of my colleagues at work are actually somewhat aggressive in their sports talk, and they expect me to represent for the Skins. Every Monday one of them will come lumbering into my office, where I'm very intently trying to do some work or read the internet, and launch some open-ended ambiguous question like: "So, how about your boys?" or "So what do you have to say for your Skins after yesterday?" and wait for me to respond. And I can't just flee the scene, because it's my office. There's not a lot of wiggle room there.
After two weeks of trying to follow along, I've been pleased with my progress. I like the Washington Post's sports coverage way more than the New York Times' (in large part because NY teams are almost uniformly vile) and so I usually read their sports columnists, which gives me most everything I need to know. And football gives you some great narratives, spread over a reasonable period of time, with only a small number of games to dissect and analyze. Right now I know enough to worry about said offensive line, to wonder if Jason Campbell will ever throw a touchdown pass, to grow impatient waiting for Zorn's west coast offense to pan out, to hate and scorn Danny Snyder for suing little-old-lady season ticket holders, and to be relieved and anguished by last Sunday's pathetic dribbling victory over the Rams.
I have an autumn fantasy where L and I spend some chilly Sunday afternoon ensconced in some bar, getting pleasantly drunk and watching the game and clinking glasses with garrulous Washingtonians and singing "Hail to the Redskins," verse and all, after a victory. The Redskins are a really big deal back home and it makes me feel good to root for them. The brash colors, the racist name, the legacy of greatness tarnished by a decade or so of mediocrity - it's all a part of it, of us. Fight on, sons of Washington.