Somewhere off the highway, beyond the exit signs, there are towns of all sizes – map dots to cities – that come alive in late August and captivate a buzz throughout the fall.
Whether it’s Friday night lights, Saturday college game days, or an NFL Sunday, one thing is for sure; it’s going to be a damn good time. Welcome to the American football town, one of the few places left where we leave our political differences aside to come together.
There are characters of all kinds: Retired folks, just thankful for fair weather, families busty creating memories, and former frat bulls in their early 30s reliving their glory days. Then there’s the youth, the energy supply of the party, running on Red Bulls and dollar pizza slices. You know, the ones who make a 60-minute football game a weekend-long event.
Football’s Financial & Cultural Impact
Football is one of the few modern American assemblies that have the power to influence herds of people and their lifestyles. What they wear, what they eat and drink, and how they spend their time and money – all influenced by a game featured around an oblique-shaped brown ball.
It has its advantages, such as stimulating a local economy. In 2020, a year without fans due to COVID-19, we saw just how much football influences these football towns’ and cities’ economies. Pubs, stores, hotels, beer distributors – hell – your local gas station benefits from football weekends off cigarette sales alone.
This sport, first played just over 150 years ago when Princeton faced Rutgers in 1869, can also create community and fellowship around it. It can bring lifelong friends back to town or make a total stranger feel like they’re by simply celebrating at a tailgate or over a touchdown together.
College kids are willing to wake up before sunrise for it. Elders are eager to stay up past midnight for it. Stadium crowd roars can change the entire future for a young fan. Memories and unforgettable moments are made by people who don’t even play in the game. If that isn’t culturally impactful, I don’t know what is.
Perhaps above all else, football and its culture can serve as a slight escape for so many who struggle with real-world problems today. While we all have to-do lists and things to worry about tomorrow for that select time you’re enjoying the game, everything feels aright in the world.
Cons of Kickoffs
Like most pleasing aspects of life, there are also harmful byproducts of football on localities and their citizens. Increased crime and littering are two of the most verifiable cons. But there are also other health-related drawbacks a day or weekend full of indulgences can bring.
It’s safe to say that tailgating or football-watching food tends to be overloaded with fat, salt, and/or sugar. You can manage to have a million things on your mind leading up to an event like that, so the last thing you may think about is how healthy your food is.
Another safe assumption is that more people of age than not are drinking alcohol while away from home watching or preparing to watch a game. In a 2017 survey conducted by YouGov, 77 percent of respondents say they drink alcohol at tailgates. If anyone drank reasonably, there would be no downside to catching a pre-game buzz in the company of others.
But of course, this isn’t the case and large populations of people binge drinking can often lead to serious crimes like Driving while Under the Influence (DUI) and various forms of assault.
Ways to Reduce Football’s Negative Impact
There’s no fixed solution to the double-sided coin that football brings to each destination. But there are some measures to keep in mind.
1) Pick up your trash
It’s not rocket science. Bring a garbage bag or find one for your empties and other debris.
2) Consider Healthy Food Options
Yes, it might take a bit more planning, but it will be worth it when you don’t have to work off the weight following football season. Veggie and fruit trays are always an option, and sometimes you can’t go wrong with a simple salad.
3) Don’t Forget the Water
The worst thing you can do during a day full of pre-and-post football games shenanigans is forgetting to drink water – regardless of weather conditions. Especially if you’ll be hitting the bottle, don’t forget to mix in water between drinks.
4) If You See Something, Say Something
It’s great to have a good time, but nobody does when things get out of hand. It doesn’t matter the nature of the incident, but if someone is doing something they shouldn’t be, say something. Whether that’s approaching them if safe to do so, or letting the authorities know. It’s great to have a good time, but nobody does when things get out of hand.
5) Enjoy It
Win or lose, football is one of the best pastimes today that brings people together of all ages, races, and genders. Soak it up when you can because just watching some of the world’s most skilled athletes – whether in person or on TV – is a privilege in itself.