Finding a reason to love football

Published 9:55 pm Wednesday, August 17, 2016

By Henry Luzzatto

To tell you the truth, I’m not the biggest football fan.

For a sports reporter, that’s one of the worst things you can admit. But since Friday is my last day working here before I head back to college, I figured now is the best time to make my confession.

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I blame my dad for my lack of interest in the sport. My father, who was born in Washington, D.C., was born and raised a fan of the Washington Redskins, which means I was raised a Redskins fan.

It is a scientific fact that the football team you support is passed down genetically, so I was doomed to be a ‘Skins fan from the day I was born.

Now, I understand the Redskins are not the worst team you can support. They’re not quite as hilariously miserable as the Cleveland Browns and haven’t quite sunk to the same depths as the Detroit Lions. But the combination of an incompetent owner, disappointing squad and racist name make Washington a tough team to like.

As the years went by and my dad got more and more frustrated with the team, we saw less football on television, opting instead for soccer or (God help me) the Food Network.

It developed even more when I reached high school. As a self-proclaimed band nerd, I played in the marching band, which meant I regarded the football players we supported with a mild disdain.

College hasn’t really made it any better. Though Washington and Lee’s football team went undefeated last season, the games were extremely poorly attended. (I actually went to every home game, but that’s because my girlfriend is a cheerleader. I spent the majority of the time paying attention to her and not the game.)

So with the high school football season fast approaching, I was not particularly excited about my job covering the sport. I would have to spend time out in the hot weather, taking pictures of sweaty athletes and coaches, smudging my notes with sweat, writing down names of star players who won’t even be on the field until I’m back in Lexington.

But as the season started to really ramp up, I started finding myself getting hyped up for the high school season.

I spent time at practices and scrimmages, watching the teams practice plays, watching coaches explode at players for mistakes and watching some of the area’s best high school athletes show their skills. Instead of leaving as soon as I could to get back to air-conditioned rooms, I found myself staying extra long to keep watching.

The pinnacle of my hype for the season came when I returned to my old school, Nansemond-Suffolk Academy, to take photos at the football practice.

Though I no longer recognize the players from my days at school, I still felt an emotional connection to the team, even though I had no real personal involvement in the sport.

Maybe it’s just nostalgia for the simpler days of high school. But regardless of the reason, it has caused me to have a newfound appreciation for a sport I didn’t really have that much interest in.

When the Saints play their first game of the season, I will officially no longer be an intern at the Suffolk News-Herald. But even though I won’t be reporting on them, I still plan to be in the stands to watch and enjoy.

Henry Luzzatto is a Suffolk resident and intern for the Suffolk News-Herald. This is his last week on staff, as he returns to college soon. He will be replaced by Pikachu.