In all honesty, I have not been to too many professional sporting events. Until this past year, I had been to maybe two Red Sox games when I was younger, a handful of minor league hockey games, and one Boston Bruins hockey game. I come from a family of New England Patriots fanatics, but I never cared too much about sporting events until sometime in my early thirties when I was trying to make my first marriage work by attempting to meet my ex-husband halfway. I thought that participating in some of his interests would help our relationship. That didn't work out obviously, but I did develop some passion for football and hockey; mostly in regards to the Patriots and the Bruins. I love the fast pace of hockey and overall, I like the game of football.
Over the next few years, I divorced and lived alone. My health was in terrible shape and I didn't have the resources or the good health to invest in attending professional sporting events, so oftentimes I would go with friends, or a date, to UMASS hockey games and Springfield Falcons games. I came to realize that I much preferred watching events live as opposed to watching them on television.
However, I started watching games more often on television when I started dating my husband, because he loves his Patriots, Bruins, and Celtics. He is not as much of a baseball fan but then again, neither was I. I love Sundays in the fall when we kick back in our sweats, watching the Patriots on television, and I find myself getting caught up in my local team's progress. Boston all the way!
My husband and I had the opportunity to bid on tickets at a charity auction back in March of this year. We very much wanted Patriots tickets as I had never been to an NFL game and he had never been to Gillette Stadium, and I have been desperately wanting to go for over seven years. There were also Red Sox tickets for auction and although I didn't like baseball, I love Boston and Fenway Park. So we bid on both. And we won both. Fenway and Gillette, here we come!
The Red Sox game was Memorial Day weekend, which was the weekend in between our wedding ceremony and our wedding reception. Not the best timing, but it was a welcome break from the craziness of it all. The seats were excellent; right at third base and close to the field. It had been about twenty-five years since I had been to a game and within ten minutes of being at the park, I was a Red Sox fan. It was such a different experience watching the game live as opposed to on television. I loved the history of Fenway itself, the energy of the crowd, everything. And, I found the game itself interesting. Luckily, I know the basics of how the game is played, which made it that much more enjoyable.
It was an amazing game, one of the top two games of the season up until the writing of this blog. The Sox played the Cleveland Indians and were down five runs, I believe, in the ninth inning. People were actually leaving the park, thinking the game was over. Sure, it was disappointing that it looked like they were going to lose but I NEVER leave an event early: not a concert, sporting event, movie, nothing. I'm too cheap. I figure that if I pay good money for tickets, I am going to enjoy every single minute of it. Also, I have seen way too many sporting events on TV where miracles happen!
Sure enough, at their last time at bat, the Red Sox scored enough runs to win the game. People couldn't believe it and the crowd went wild. It was an adrenaline rush that I knew was unique to Fenway Park and the Boston Red Sox. I couldn't stop thinking or talking about it for days. At this point, the Sox are in the playoffs and had another amazing game last night, where they came from behind to win.
Enter October. We had four Patriots tickets and I was beyond excited to go to Gillette Stadium and watch the Patriots compete against the New Orleans Saints. We invited another couple, who we are good friends with, to join us, and we decided to make a day out of it. Rumor has it that the best way to enjoy a Patriots game is to tailgate before the game. So we borrowed a portable grill, loaded up the coolers, and we headed out to Foxboro, arriving four and a half hours before game time. By the way, I highly recommend doing that. The game was at 4:25pm and we arrived a little before noon. We hit minimal traffic, got a parking spot not too far from the walkway into the stadium, and had a great tailgating experience. We even tailgated after the game as it didn't look like we were getting out of there anytime soon. Might as well eat and sit in a comfy chair instead of being frustrated in a car, sitting in traffic!
|The white van is ours. That is my husband sitting in the blue chair and our friends, Jane and Dave, standing up.|
The tailgating was a blast. We had people parked next to us from New Brunswick, Canada. They had traveled down for a Sox game the night before and then drove to Foxboro for the Patriots game. They were very experienced tailgaters; their truck was even equipped with a portable potty for women only. No lie. They introduced us to grilled moose and reintroduced me to frozen margaritas. My husband and I walked around the parking lot at one point and it was amazing to see the tailgating setups people had. Large screen televisions, outdoor game setups, campfires, all kind of different unique cooking methods/appliances, tents, you name it. These people take their tailgating seriously! It was a lot of fun. We found people to be extremely helpful and generous with their food and drink. It was just one big party!
|Tailgating. I loved all the American flags that we saw up in the parking lot.|
Gillette Stadium is an experience in itself. Because we were having so much fun tailgating, we didn't get to spend as much time at Patriots Place as we would have liked. It is a large shopping complex right next to the stadium and it is a place that is open at times other than game days, so we will be going back.
|My husband and I going into Gillette.|
Our seats for this sporting event were pretty much as high as you can get in Gillette Stadium. There were only about fifteen rows behind us. It was us in the sky; at least that is how it felt. But I found that the view was great, even with being so high up. Plus the ten-fifteen minute walk up to our seats helped me work off that Canadian margarita. We were surrounded by mostly Patriots fans and some Saints fans. We found the Saints fans to be pretty friendly but I did overhear a few comments from the Patriots fans about the Saints fans that I thought was very uncalled for. A woman behind me started talking loudly about how she hates it when the other team's fans are sitting near her. I believe these were season tickets seats, so she probably always expects to be surrounded by Pats fans, but it was a bit rude. There was also an incident where at the end of the game, a Pats fan came flying over the rows of seats to get in the face of a Saints fan (a woman). I don't know if he touched her as I was turned towards my husband, but he was yelling and screaming in her face. He was so out of control that he bumped into me in the process and then of course, the woman got enraged with him screaming in her face and went chasing after him.
|Dusk in Foxboro.|
|View from our seats.|
|Other view from our seats.|
I am a big fan of cheering for the home team and friendly competition, but I am also a fan of not being a jerk. There was joking around between us and the Saints fans about our teams being better, how they were going to win, etc. but it was respectful. Not all people are like that and it's a shame. I think when you are the home team, you should act in a way that is representative of your home. For me, that means welcoming. But, that's what happens when people consume a lot of alcohol too.
None of this really mattered in terms of how much we enjoyed the game though. Like the Red Sox game, it was an incredible game. Like baseball, it also goes by much faster when you are at the game. We thought we were going to lose at the two minute mark after the Saints scored. Again, people started to empty out of the stadium. Fools. This is Tom Brady (quarterback) that we are talking about and if anyone can pull off a Hail Mary, it's him. Sure enough, him and the team did an offensive drive that happened so quickly (there were no time outs left and the clock was ticking) that if you blinked, you missed something. With five seconds left in the game, Tom Brady threw a touchdown pass that won the game. It was simply amazing. People were going nuts. Friends and family were texting and calling me to make sure that we hadn't left the game early. It was a great first NFL game to see, no doubt about it.
|My husband and I. My mom, a breast cancer survivor, made me this pink awareness scarf for the game. October is breast cancer awareness month and the Patriots wear pink on their uniform.|
So I am hooked on live professional sporting events. I do wish it didn't cost so much money to go. If it didn't, I would be a Patriots season's ticket holder for sure. But it is what it is. I was grateful for the opportunity to go, to spend quality, fun time with my husband and friends, and to be a part of something bigger than myself. So until next time, thank you Boston!