Football and the potential unraveling of self-identity

Yesterday, I attended my first ever football game. It most likely won’t be the last one I watch.

My husband’s birthday is on Tuesday. To celebrate, I thought I would surprise him with tickets to see his favourite football team, the Indianapolis Colts. This is Mr. Rafia’s first birthday as a married man, so I wanted to make it extra special.

Unfortunately, being the (hitherto) impassioned anti-sports person that I am, I had no idea that what I was shelling out my hard-earned money on was only a preseason game – in other words, a practice game! They weren’t even good seats, either!

That the NFL preys on innocent folk such as myself (I am partially joking here) by selling tickets to a practice game at such exorbitant prices only adds to the already numerous complaints about the league. But that is not what this post is about. Another time, perhaps.

My husband assured me that it was the thought that counts. Whenever anyone says that though, I’m always slightly suspicious that the opposite might also be true. I want to believe that people are honest, so I tried to take it at face value. Still, until the moment we arrived at Lucas Oil Stadium, I was nervous. For one, I was desperately hoping that, despite the entire situation, we would both have a good time. Secondly and perhaps more importantly was the nagging thought: Was I willingly allowing myself to enter into the world of sports? These are contradictory thoughts, I know. But I reassured myself, “In marriage, one must make sacrifices.” Watching sports would be one of mine.

Though I still don’t understand the rules of the game, despite my husband’s earnest attempts yesterday to explain what a punt is and that getting a first down is a good thing, I suppose I am less anti-sports than I was before (?).

Oh yeah, the music they played during the commercial breaks had me dancing in my seat. That helped!

Most significant though is the fact that I am being forced to confront my past and a self-constructed identity of who I ought to be. None of these exercises are very pretty. The very mention of sports brings to my mind the torture that was gym class, though no one but myself would be able to recount these memories. And as I’ve gotten older, I’ve taken great pride in fashioning myself as being above sports. “Sports are for the common folk. You are way too cultured to be interested in a game where men run and rave over a ball!” my subconscious might say. It’s petty, arrogant, and unfair of me to give that notion any credence though. I know a lot of wonderful and frankly way more intelligent people than I who love sports.

I think the hardest thing really is letting go of the Rafia I like to think I am. If I allow myself to enjoy sports, in this case football – the most American of them all – I am deconstructing an identity of myself that goes against my inner narrative (proud Canadian, academic-ish, a loner, a geek, a writer, etc). It actually opens me up to many different possibilities – and that’s frightening for someone who is comforted by routine.

I am not saying I have been converted. I may or I may not be. But because my husband loves the sport (and sports in general), it won’t hurt for me to take an interest for his sake, at least initially. It might actually bring us closer together. Earlier today, as we rehashed the previous night, he mentioned something about sports engendering a sense of camaraderie and community among fans, things that I have personally struggled with and yearned for as a child and adolescent. He certainly made a compelling case.

Who knows whether I will end up liking the sport or not. That’s not the point. The point is, I really like the new jersey/shirt Mr. Rafia bought for me from the Colts shop right before the game. He was so excited to get it for me and even posted two photos from yesterday on Instagram. This is huge coming from a dude who mostly posts pictures of cats. I need another excuse to wear the shirt again, to be honest. I like it that much! If that means I must sit through another game – on television the next time, I learned my lesson – well, at least I can wear my new shirt!

I feel like the “Nice Coat” hobo from Batman Begins. It’s a nice shirt.

10 thoughts on “Football and the potential unraveling of self-identity

  1. I’m not a sports person either :) I’m guessing nerds rarely are. Glad to hear you’ve enjoyed yourself though. Mr.Rafia is a lucky man. There is nothing better than your significant other embracing your hobbies/passions even if it’s not their cup of tea. I hope my future Mr. Geeky Muslim will be as thoughtful as you, and purchase tickets to Comicon as a surprise.

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  2. Hahaha I cracked up when I read that you bought tickets to a practise game! In all fairness I wouldn’t know that either – I never knew tickets were sold for practise games! People honestly make money from all sorts of things nowadays *dramatic eye roll* Definitely a thoughtful present and a memorable day so all’s good anyway innit? :D Yknow one thing I’ve recently learnt is that sometimes life gives you a good kick & you start seeing possibilities that you thought were never meant for you. It’s a positive sign. Embrace it! The Rafia you are now isn’t going to be the same in a few years. Belated happy birthday to your husband! :) x

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  3. Wise words, Sage Naureen! Thank you. I guess I just gotta focus on living the best life I can now, because who knows where I will be in the future. I can’t really plan for it. I had no idea that 5 years ago I would be where I am today!


  4. I’m so honoured that by association I might be considered a nerd! I guess that’s a sign I’m a dork more than anything – a girl who so desperately wants to be a nerd she’ll attempt to read the Silmarillion. I was never able to finish it though. Man, it was dense! Insha’Allah Mr. Geeky Muslim will! Have you ever been to Comicon? Did/would you dress up as a character? I’d love to dress up as Eowyn, if possible!

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  5. Looool, you are a riot Rafia. The Silmarillion is dense indeed. I go to Comicon regularly either in Ottawa or Toronto. I’ve started attending conventions in my late teens with my Dungeon and dragons squad, and got hooked: Star trek conventions, Comicon, renaissance fairs (yep, I once went as a bard with a golden lyre lol). It’s a lot of fun, everyone has a great time, and it is a celebration of inclusivity and diversity in every sense of the term. I’ve also dabbled in larping (live action role playing).

    Medieval dresses are very hijab friendly, so you could most definitely go as Eowyn by finding a way to integrate your hijab in the costume.
    I haven’t cosplay lately, but I was thinking of putting together a hijabi posse with steampunk costumes….Hail the Hijabi contingent…loool.

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  6. I’m not sure what steampunk is, I had to Google that! I’m fascinated by steam engines! Any plans to go to the one in San Diego? That’s the original one right? I think they had one in Indy. I was interested in going, but never did end up going. My husband’s not really a sci-fi/fantasy fan :(

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  7. Oh we continue to be apathetic about sports. I only know what’s in season because of what other people write on Facebook. Except during the World Cup, when my husband remembers he’s Argentinian. But now the kids are playing soccer and tee ball and we are learning A LOT.

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