Military members come from all corners of the country and could end up being stationed anywhere — that's one of the great things about military service. And, just like any other American, people in the military have a diverse range of interests — which may or may not include college football.
So, what does an airman who has no interest in college football do when they're stationed near Montgomery, Alabama, and they get invited to a Crimson Tide playoff party?
First of all, always accept the invitation. Don't let a lack of enthusiasm for the game keep you from having a good time with your friends. Parties are supposed to be fun and football parties are no different. Friends, food, and drinks are not something to be shied away from. That being said, there are ways you can be an effective partygoer, enhancing the fun instead of bringing everyone down.
8. There's nothing wrong with not watching football.
Just enjoy the touchdowns.
Just don't make fun of it. Football fans are great. As long as their team isn't getting blown out, they'll be happy to explain what's happening, the bare necessities to follow the game, and what's at stake. In return for their guidance, all they want is that you have a good time and don't let the conversation flow to a dark place. Speaking of which...
7. Don't be "That Guy."
There's nothing wrong with carrying a yellow flag just to throw it at "that guy."
For football, "That Guy" can take many forms — bringing up the politics surrounding your host's team, bringing up the critical losses of the season, or talking about serious things that could be better left to another time. For example, it's a pretty good bet that no one at a Super Bowl party cares about the kneeling thing, so you can bring that up to a different crowd.
You can also be a good guest by not cracking inane jokes or talking during crucial moments in the game (you'll know because the room suddenly gets silent).
6. Pick a team and go with it.
Some teams are better than others. That doesn't matter when it comes to fandom.
If there's one thing sports fans respect, it's true fandom. If you were a fan of the Patriots before the Belichick era, you've got street cred. If you were still a USC fan after Pete Carroll left, good on you. If you're still a Browns fan, you've earned respect. Don't go switching teams because of your boyfriend or girlfriend and definitely don't do it because Clemson has been slowly making their way to dominance.
And if you've never had a team before, pick one of the teams playing at the party and stay with them, win or lose. Cheer when they score, jeer when they get screwed by the refs. The only way you can go wrong is switching teams mid-game.
5. Bring good food.
How to win the football party.
Nobody is going to hate the guy or gal who brought the slow-cooked ribs. Nobody — even if you make that tired joke about the quarterback rounding the bases and scoring a basket. "That guy" (without the food) would not be invited back. "That guy" with the food will be invited to every party ever.
4. Do the bare minimum of homework.
"And that's how the Browns can still make the playoffs."
Watch some videos on YouTube and learn about one common penalty, like pass interference. When you see it called during the game, you can be one of those people who yells "BULLSH*T" or, if you watch closely, wonder aloud how the refs missed that blatant pass interference.
If you're trying to pass yourself off as a fan, this is the fastest way. Learning things like "quarterback pressure" and what a "slot receiver" is will put you one head above other people pretending to be fans.
3. Have an exit strategy.
If the game is big enough and the fanbase frustrated enough, the end of a big game could either mean depression or an explosion of anger should the home team lose. Having an excuse to leave after the game is a good idea. This is a great way to avoid seeing a darker side of your friends' lives.
2. Keep to football.
You're there for a football game, so do football things. Talk about football news, other football games, football players, or other teams in the division and how much we hate them. So, go play beer pong, eat wings, and remember that no one needs to hear your 2016 Presidential Campaign theories.
Also on the excluded list are things like religion, money, and true crime — unless there's a Netflix documentary about it.
1. Don't confuse your halftime shows.
You will probably never see "An Ode To Cheese" at the Super Bowl Halftime Show.
It may be difficult for even the most enthusiastic football watcher to keep track of who's in which bowl game. Nobody expects anyone to know who's playing in the Pinstripe Bowl (unless you're in Wisconsin or Miami, I suppose). But in college, there are four main bowl games and then the BCS playoff national championship. None of those have a halftime show headlined by someone like Justin Timberlake.
That's the NFL Super Bowl. You will likely miss the Sugar Bowl halftime show because you're too busy shotgunning a Keystone Light.