As you may have heard, camp started this past Monday for the football Tigers of Missouri. This is exciting news. We're nearing the end of the long, arduous drought that is Winter and Spring. Fall is comin' in HOT, and all of us are chomping at the bit to get some sweet, sweet football in front of our faces. However, a word of caution to those of you that are already diving head-first into the first few scraps of coverage that have become available: PUMP THE BRAKES.
That's right, people, it's imperative that you ease your way back into football. Think of it as a pool. It's Summer, and it's swelteringly hot outside. A cool, refreshing dip is just what you need, but diving in all at once isn't the way to go. The sudden temperature change would send a shock through your system that you're unlikely to recover from. What you need to do is head on over to those steps and work your way into the depths bit-by-bit. Not only will this ensure your safety, but it will also prolong the cooling experience and make the whole thing that much more enjoyable. If you shift straight into high-gear with your football intake, not only are you going to ruin your clutch, you'll also overwork your engine. By the time October rolls around, you'll already be fatigued.
"But Jack," you whine, "I'm ready for my football NOW! How can I hold myself in check?"
Fret not, dear reader, for I have developed a scientifically-proven, fail-proof method for putting on your football pants one leg at a time. Follow me into the light, comrades.
Step 1: Get your TV in order
There's a whole slew of new channels and shows and personalities and EVERYTHING available to the fans this year. If you don't get your viewing options in check before the season starts, you'll miss out on crucial pre-game information. Find the analysts that fit your style and have them queued up in advance.
Step 2: Stretch your vocal chords
Even professionals need time to get themselves back into the swing of things before they compete. Be honest with yourself here for a moment, and admit that your trash talk game is a bit rusty. It's probably been five or six months since you really talked some good smack; you need to get your wits back up to speed. Here's what to do: pull up a picture of your opposition's coach and really lay into him. Don't hold anything back. Once he's been eviscerated, move on to the mascot. Tell him how stupid they look, and MAKE SURE you don't forget to be specific when illustrating how many children said being terrifies. This step is incredibly important, no one wants to hear lame insults.
Step 3: Pack carefully
When you're out and about, it's easy to forget to stay hydrated. Everyone love imbibing with their fellow fans, but you're going to be in big trouble when you neglect your biological need for H²O. For this reason, you MUST remember to pack a sufficient supply of water in whatever vessel you plan on lugging around. Fail to do so, and you'll be relegated to public water-fountains. This kills the tailgater. Pack smart, pack well, and avoid the spread of Ebola.
Step 4: Brush up on your cheers
You've talked some trash, your staying hydrated, and everything is swell, but all of a sudden the fight song comes on and you realize that you've totally forgotten the middle verse. Don't get cocky and assume your steel-trap of a mind has every word locked up. You've crammed a whole bunch of stuff in there since the last time you had to sing along with your fellow fans, it's entirely possible that a few sentences fell out along the way. Pull up your team's songs and cheers on YouTube and give yourself a refresher. You'll be a better fan for it.
Step 5: Get your tolerance up
Football and booze go hand-in-hand. They're a match made in the holiest part of heaven. As you go about your viewing, it's undoubtably true that you'll also be consuming alcohol in some form. Herein we find the problem: you probably haven't devoted an entire day to drinking for some time. It's time to start getting back into shape, people. Start slow; drink a few beers here and there as you go about your Saturday. Once that becomes easy, you can take it up a notch and hit a few bars. By the time the season rolls around, your form will be impeccable.
Step 6: Work on your hands
With football comes tailgating, and with tailgating comes catch. Inevitably, someone is going to pull out the pigskin and start tossing it around. Do you want to be the one who can't hold on to the ball? Are you okay with your friends calling you "Butter-Fingers" for the rest of the season? I didn't think so. It's time to hit the jug-machine. Get those paws in mid-season form, and you'll be the first selection a pickup game breaks out.
Step 7: Stock your shelves
I'll clue you in on a little something: everyone likes to put different condiments on their food. Whether it be ketchup, mustard, relish, barbecue sauce, or Sriracha, folks dig being able to douse their edibles in something before stuffing it in their mouth. Don't discriminate. I don't care if you think putting ketchup on a hotdog is an affront to meat itself, some people enjoy their mystery meat slathered with tomato paste. Provide your patrons with all the options they desire, and you'll be the tailgate master in no time.
Step 8: Know your limits
Yes, it's football and we're all excited. However, for your own safety, you should really make sure you know your physical boundaries. Want to run a deep post route? Cool, your endurance can probably handle seven seconds of mild sprinting. It's when you start going for the blocking sled that you're going to run into trouble. You're not a 300-pound mountain of a man, that sled is going to catapult you into next week. Think before you act, and you'll be okay.