Women start learning sports about the time the boy down the street changes from creepy to creamy. Even if they couldn't care less, it is forced into them like milk and spinach. Take me and football. My father was a marvelous football player at Washington State. My brother played quarterback on the high school football team. Although there were four girls and one boy in our family, not one word was spoken at our table from early August until after the Rose Bowl that did not involve football. All this happened way back in the days when the quarterback ran the team—and my sisters and I knew so much about strategy that mother cautioned us to keep the exact amount of our knowledge of football to ourselves. It was, she said, the same thing as not beating our dates at tennis.
Now that I am married I like to see a football game from time to time, if only to tell all the men sitting around me just what the penalties are for before the announcer on the loudspeaker system tells them. I was very careful to choose a husband who liked football, too, so our life every fall was a lovely succession of football weekends—until we bought our television set. I remember that weekend well. My husband sank slowly into his chair, dialed the channel carrying the Game of the Week and announced, "This is for me!" It took me about 20 minutes to discover that it sure was—for him alone.
It required clever management (and several sneaky little tricks) to get us back to the stadium. For instance, around our house an envelope containing a pair of football tickets has usurped the necktie as the good old reliable gift item. I give them for birthdays, Christmas, and Halloween treats. This year my husband wasn't the least bit astonished to receive two tickets to the homecoming game as a small token of appreciation on Armed Forces Day.
I have even encouraged him to join those secret societies that men are always forming, like quarterback clubs or touchdown clubs. I know they are frowned on in some wifely quarters, and I do have to pay a price—once a week he disappears to attend a dinner for some big hero or important coach who gives him the lowdown on the whole situation. Women, of course, are not allowed—until maybe two months after the season is over, by which time we are already up to our ears in baseball spring training.
So maybe I am even a traitor to my sex for encouraging this kind of discrimination. If so, I'll take the blame—but I want some credit too. Women are getting pretty tired of being regarded as second-class television spectators and we are about ready to dynamite our spouses out of their overstuffed chairs. Mr. O'Malley, Mr. Galbreath, Messrs. Topping and Webb, ladies' day isn't sufficient recognition for what we've done for you. It's the women who are saving your day, and if you don't want us all to take up quilting or ceramics or bird watching, you'd better take note of this, and when Hall of Fame time comes around vote to put a real bust into it.