As a member of the professional sports media, I have a cultural obligation to get all curmudgeonly when the occasion calls for it. An adult Redskins fan posting a tearful video to YouTube because she didn’t get an autograph at training camp is just such an occasion.
This woman, Kimberly Lewis, used the word "devastated" in a title that also included the words "Redskins training camp." I checked, and nothing tragic has happened at Redskins camp so far. Let’s run through a timeline of this video, shall we?
0:05: "I’ve been here since 6:30."
Wait. This means you most likely set an alarm so you could attend a football practice even though nobody was paying you to be there. I’m going to take this to mean you had never been to a football practice before, because if you had you would not have done that.
Football practice is terrible. It’s boring and it’s hot and unless there’s a fight, you leave realizing you spent two hours watching nothing happen. I know this because my job has required me to watch a lot of football practices over the years.
Here’s what it’s like:
You show up and there are like 100 players spread out into little position groups all over two practice fields that are right next to each other. And they’re stretching. This lasts about 15 minutes. A whistle blows, and they move around a little bit, and start doing "drills." This basically means some assistant coach stands there in a visor (if he’s an offensive guy; offensive coaches love visors) holding a foam dummy of some kind and players take turns running past him at 60 percent speed and striking the dummy in one way or another. You find yourself a spot next to the painted line — and you will get sternly shooed off if your toe so much as touches that line; there are square-jawed strength coaches in wraparound Oakleys assigned to do just that — or the rope and invariably that ends up being the spot where the offensive linemen are practicing their pass-blocking against air. You want to watch the quarterbacks, but all they’re doing is handing off the ball to pretend running backs and carrying out a bootleg fake at the pace of the grocery store checkout line. Defensive backs are covering other defensive backs at half speed. You get the idea.
This lasts for something, like, all flipping day. Usually there is nowhere to sit.
At the end they run a few plays. There’s scattered hooting and yelling, some whistles, some passes caught and some passes dropped and finally a huge air horn and an autograph line where you get to stand behind a rope like a cow and crane your neck with 30 others trying to get Pierre Garcon to scribble his name on your hat.
Do not go to a football practice expecting to have "fun."
0:10: "All I wanted was an autograph."
0:31: "I took off work for this and everything."
That sounds all dramatic and sacrificial, but a lot of people take off work so they can get drunk in the afternoon on a Thursday. It’s not an impressive sacrifice. Many Americans have a difficult time even using all their vacation, although I’m going to guess that the kind of adult who would post a video of themselves crying about not getting an autograph is probably not calling the shots at whatever job they have.
0:50: "’I’ve been a fan my whole life."
So has everyone else that showed up that day, and yet you appear to be the only one crying about it on the Internet.
1:02: "I just wanted an autograph. I didn’t even care who."