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Why We Watch, Part III

This is the third of a three part series of articles that look at why we remain fans of the Detroit Lions.

After considering pride and identity, we’ll turn now to likely the least obvious but most important reason that we return each summer and fall to support our Lions:


For so many of us, being a Lions fan is part of our family, nuclear and extended. Our loyalty to the team was passed onto us by our fathers and shared with us by our brothers, uncles and cousins. It has rubbed off on our spouses and surrounds our children. It brings generations together in the living room every Thanksgiving afternoon.

Being a Lions fan is one of those overlooked things about life that become the proverbial glue holding families together. When my wife’s parents come out to visit us, and my father-in-law and I are left alone in a room, he never has that feeling of “what are we supposed to talk about now?”. He knows, no mater what time of day it is or what month we are in, he can always ask me the same thing:

“So what’s new with those Lions?”

My mother has never been able to see a football game that I have coached. At best, she can watch film or look at pictures that I have sent her. I know that it bothers her a lot, but she knows that she can always watch a Lions game with me, maybe even in person. Though our working week schedules collide, our Sundays will always be set aside for God and football.

My brother-in-law and I have had an up and down relationship, as many young people do. In more ways than not, we are two vastly different men brought together by a common woman. I am very much an Alpha male, aggressive, hard-headed, visceral. Eric is more well-rounded, a caring husband and a hell of a Theatre and English teacher.

As different as we may be, the Lions give us that common ground. The last time I was in town to see my family, I grabbed Eric for a ride up to the local Dunhams to pick through the clearance priced Lions gear. On the way we got to talking about what things in life are worth the price, no matter what the price is. Did we say good health? World Peace? Clean teeth? No, we both agreed that if the Lions ever host an NFC Championship game, we are going, no matter what the cost.

We also agreed that, again no matter the cost, we would be certain to take our sons (my hypothetical one). We know how special our Lions memories are to us, and we want our boys to share them as well.

Stories like these live in the heads and hearts of Lions fans everywhere. We laugh about them during commercials, and retell them at tailgates. We point out old seats when we watch games on TV, and irritate our spouses by telling that same “Hey, I remember when…” story again and again.

This Thanksgiving, when your family gathers in front of the television for the game we all hold dear, and all arguments and disagreements fade into cheers and memories, save a turkey leg for the Lions…they are part of the family too.

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