The wait is over, and training camp is finally here. The long off-season is a distant memory, especially if your team didn’t make the playoffs last season. But that’s all in the past now and like the first day of a new school year, there’s a feeling of promise that lingers.
Ever since the Super Bowl, you’ve tried to follow other pro sports, but it’s just not the same. Talk radio at work sounds like a broken record repeating the same crap each day, but you know it’s not their fault. How can you make a sport like baseball that plays 162-games anymore interesting than it was the previous day in mid-July? But you know it won’t be long until your Sundays are booked for the next five months, and not a day goes by that you’re not thinking about the start of the season.
With training camp only days away, the football switch in your head instantly turns on. There’s a new discussion when you meet up with friends, as the talks from how your baseball team’s playoff hopes have faded away and pretending to care about basketball in July, quickly turn into your thoughts on the upcoming football season. All across the country fans begin to ask the same questions.
“What should we expect?”
“Who’s going to step up?”
“Are we better than we were last season?”
“Will this be our year?”
It doesn’t matter if you’re a Seahawks fan rooting to see your team win back-to-back Super Bowls or a Bengals fan praying to the football Gods to see your team win their first playoff game since 1991; football season brings back hope to all.
In Denver, the debacle that took place in the Super Bowl is all but forgotten. In Kansas City, the lesson of playing 60-minutes of football has been instilled for the past six months now. And in Jacksonville, well… at least they’re adding some nice poolside cabanas for fans right?
You’ve looked over the training camp schedule more and more with each day passing, growing anxious for it to start. You’ve known for weeks now what day you and your buddy were going to make a trip to practice, excited to see this year’s squad up-close.
The night before going to training camp, you reach to the back of your closet. You finagle your way like a mouse through a maze before you finally grab your favorite jersey that hasn’t been worn in months. It doesn’t matter that the player’s name on the back hasn’t played for the team in years, because it’s your lucky jersey and you’ve been through it all with it.
Waking-up the next morning, you’re motivated to be as close to the field as possible. You call your buddy to let him know you’ll be there in 20-minutes but he doesn’t pick up. You keep calling him, but to no avail. At this point you know it doesn’t matter if you show up to his house or not because you know regardless, it’s going to take him an hour to get ready. He gives you a call an hour later saying, “I set my alarm on my phone to PM by mistake,” but you don’t care. The delay cost you your shot at being in the front row. It leaves you two standing, trying to peak over the head of the child who’s on his father’s shoulders, even though the child is fast asleep.
Despite this all, you quickly move on because you’re happy that you’re simply there. Just like the coaches and players, you’ve been waiting for it to beginning too, so nothing can ruin this day. Your purpose of going to practice may not be as apparent to some of your friends that aren't there, but you know why you’re there. It’s a chance to checkout the new players, see old ones and of course play the, “who’s (insert number here)” game.
Who cares if it’s only July. When the fan-favorite catches a pass in practice, the crowd reacts as if the team just won on a 40-plus yard field goal and goes crazy – a feeling Buffalo wouldn’t know about. It doesn’t matter if there was no defense going against them in the drill because to you, that throw and catch has winning season written all over it!
While training camp is a time to be excited about the upcoming regular-season, it’s also a time for fans to make fools of themselves. It’s a place to watch grown men push little kids to the side in hopes to get their team’s media guide signed, despite finding it on the ground only moments before, by a player they neither know nor will make the team after practice.
But through it all, when you leave that day, there’s that feeling that’s been missing inside you since your team last played. You don’t know what will happen this season, but then again any true fan wouldn't, and would rather watch the soap opera that is the season unravel. You wait for this season once a year and now it's finally here. It’s football season, and there’s nothing that beats it.
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