Harper: Football fanatic for a day

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I’m not a betting man, but I would gamble my tuition on my roommates Bobby and Ryan spending every fall Saturday for the rest of their lives watching college football.

They have already been doing this since elementary school, but when they met in college, they discovered they were not alone in their commitment to sitting on a couch for eight uninterrupted hours of ESPN, Ruffles and Coke.

As the old proverb goes, you never know a man until you sit in front of a TV with him for a third of a day. Bearing this in mind, I decided to forgo my homework and get to the heart of Bobby and Ryan’s devotion by joining their football marathon last Saturday.

While they were delighted a newspaper would carry a story as un-noteworthy as theirs, they were puzzled their passion might need an explanation in the first place. Bobby, for example, finds it ludicrous that he faces criticism for telling his girlfriend their anniversary trip to Door County will have to wait until football season is over.

“Look, there have been two times she has gotten me not to watch football,” Bobby protests defensively. “And that’s two more times than anyone else.”

Though Ryan teases Bobby for this, he understands his dilemma. When he learns Gabe, another roommate, is going to the library to work on a group project, he is stunned.

“No one would have the nerve to schedule a group project on a Saturday,” Ryan exclaims, as though challenging someone to try it on him.

The bizarre majesty of Bobby and Ryan’s football romance is that it is primarily based on each of them insulting the others’ credibility as a fan. A good case in point is Ryan’s claim that Bobby, who is from Michigan, has no reason to root for the Badgers while cheering against Michigan State.

“You name some of Bobby’s allegiances,” Ryan advises me, “and I’ll tell you which of them are legitimate: none of them.”

Bobby, on the other hand, sees nothing strange about the teams he supports and opposes. He explains that Michigan State fans are jerks. But the Badgers?

“I got a sweatshirt in second grade, and it had Bucky on it,” he recalls fondly. “And I really like Bucky.”

According to Ryan, Bucky is a chotch.

Though both freely admit to opposing the others’ favorite teams, they are forever bound in their belief that no one watches football quite as well as they do.

As Ryan tips the corner of a bag of chips toward his mouth, he expresses his satisfaction that our other roommates are away for the weekend and therefore unable to soil the glory of his and Bobby’s day together.

“By the way, the article will be exponentially better because Jeff’s not here.”

“Yep,” Bobby agrees. “No butt holes allowed.”

The relationship works because of Bobby and Ryan’s willingness to work together to ensure a maximum football-viewing experience. This is most evident when they pull a second TV into the room early in the afternoon.

After strategizing for a few minutes, they devise a plan. Bobby will control the Notre Dame game on our 42-inch flat screen. Ryan will switch between the Michigan State and Alabama games on the other TV.

“We just increased our productivity a lot here,” Bobby sighs complacently. “This is the best day of my life.”

My day with my roommates didn’t persuade me to schedule my Saturdays around ESPN’s College Game Day. I still struggle to appreciate the life-or-death view Bobby and Ryan have of sports and remain unconvinced watching three football games in one day was a productive use of my time.

And while I can’t agree with Bobby’s belief that watching two TVs at once equals the best day ever, it sure beats doing homework. That alone could send me back to the couch next Saturday.

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