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The Mass Media

Thanksgiving football survival guide

The+happy+family
The happy family

You know, Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. There is no religious affiliation; no sad excuse to bring everyone together to remember something somber. It’s just a full day of food, alcohol, and lots and lots of football. From 10 a.m. high school kickoffs to a slate of three choice NFL games, turkey day is one of the biggest football days of the year. The problem is that with relatives coming from all over the state and beyond, not everyone in your living room is at the same level of pigskin competency, which, if you’re not prepared, can lead to a triptofane laced nightmare. With that in mind, here is a guide to the worst relatives you can watch with and how to neutralize their effects.
The drunk uncle
This is the stereotypical bad Thanksgiving house guest. This is a guy who, 364 days out of the year, is a highly-functioning member of society, but every Thanksgiving, he gets a visit from the booze fairy. This has negative implications from the moment he bangs his head on the porch light. In touch football, he decides to try to alter someone’s ability to have kids when they’re older. Watching the game is the worst, as he goes back and forth between rants about Obama coming for his guns (he doesn’t own any guns) and how the Jets should fire Herm Edwards (they did in 2006). His football knowledge is high but he has trouble focusing, often asking for the down and distance during the commercial breaks and asking when kickoff is with four minutes to play in the first half. The easiest way to get around this guy is to nod your head in a very passive agreement, while saying, “I guess anything’s possible.” If he is trying to focus on the game, a fun social experiment is to ask him what he thought of the last play by Tom Brady (if the Pats aren’t playing). He’ll either give you a weird look or say some bullshit like, “how bout that play?” or, “he looks good today, doesn’t he?”
The pinkhat
Ahh, over the years I have used this space many times to complain about an invasive species wreaking havoc on the native New England fan bases. This is a usually female (but can be male) relative who knows very little about any professional sport whatsoever but, because Lululemon makes Patriots headbands, is a “huge fan.” it can be frustrating to watch with them, as they seem to know more about who’s married to who than who’s making huge plays. The easiest way to make it through a day with a pinkhat is to try to gently guide them to competency through the basics. Teach them how to yell at the screen when the ref throws a flag. Teach them that your team throwing an interception is not a good thing. They’re actually not bad if they have a semblance of an idea of what’s going on. Remember, they hate you more than you hate them.
The guy who knows nothing about football
Some people are true to themselves, some people just want to fit in. The whole reason I got into sports in the first place was to fit in, but there’s always that one guy in the family who jumps into the conversation without preparing properly. After a first down, he celebrates like it’s a touchdown, after a touchdown, he mouths off that the guy that caught it wasn’t on his fantasy team. He yells for the coach to call timeout when the team clearly has no timeouts. Guys like this can be easily corrected. My best advice is to take them under your wing rather than ignore them or worse, admonish them. Teach them that an extra point is not a “post touchdown field goal” (yes, I’ve heard someone call it that), and let them know that their calls at the TV asking for Peyton Manning to run the option will probably be futile. These violators are definitely the most harmless of the bunch and can evolve pretty quickly to become next year’s Super Bowl party invitees.
The overenthusiastic menopausal aunt
I don’t know about you, but there is nothing cuter to me than having an aunt or mom jump up from their seat and cheer wildly for a 3 yard run on 3rd and 4, look around to notice everyone else in the room is firmly seated, an then genuinely ask, “what color are our jerseys again?” This relative is a real quandary because on one hand, you love their energy and you want to teach them, but on the other, watching a game with these people is like taking a final. After every play, you can expect to field a couple of questions from the logical, “what material is the field made from?, what city is this in?” to the ridiculous “they call it the pigskin, did they have to take it off the pig while it was still alive?, are the players going to all have turkey together on the field after the game is over?” The best advice I have for this one is to spread the questions around a little bit by asking other relatives if they know the answer (everyone will know the answer), this way you don’t have to talk until you lose your voice and you can cut through any awkward silence that the drunk uncle has brought upon the household.
The amped-up cousin
Every family has that one guy who wears a backwards hat and sunglasses indoors, has his top four buttons unbuttoned, and takes things way too seriously. This is the guy who can be watching a game between two teams he doesn’t even care about and find some reason to erupt at the TV to the point that you shift your butt down the couch slowly as the day goes on. There’s no way he could possibly care so much about this game, right? Well in the age of fantasy football and online sports betting, it’s entirely feasible that he actually does care that much, but boy does that get annoying. My advice for this is to just stake out a nice spot that is not across from him, looking him in the eye might prompt him to reveal what he actually cares so much about, and then he might cry.