Kelly: Football Ain’t Just For The Boys

 “Can you throw a football?” our flag football team captain asked.

“Go f*cking long,” I retorted. He took off down the field as I launched a spiral to the end zone.

 

This disbelief in my ability to throw a football or, in general, know about the game has been a common theme throughout my life. As a female, most people are surprised to learn that I spent much of my childhood throwing the football in the street with my dad and my brothers. And given my size as a runner, people are in more disbelief to learn that I come from a family of linemen who are quite literally twice my size.

IMG_8096.JPG

I hid my passion for football for a long time. It felt easier to leave out that part of my life than to have to justify it. For the record, if a guy says he likes football, no one asks why or quizzes him on the starting lineup for his favorite team. He gets a high-five and an invite to the next Monday night watch party.

But the funny thing about passions are that they come out in unexpected ways. During my senior year of college, I decided to write a senior thesis in Economics on the NFL. As one of the few women in the class, I stood up to introduce my topic during the first class session. I choseto analyze if the blind side tackle was worth the second-highest paying salary on the football team. There was a pause - this was not what my classmates were expecting - but then a few nods and smiles gave me comfort. My classmates supported my love for the sport.

Five years later, I stopped hiding my passion for football. I play in a coed flag football league. I participate in my work’s fantasy football league and ranthe NFL survivor league at my previous job. I purchased NFL Game Pass just to be sure I could watch the New York Giants play on Sundays (or Thursdays or Mondays). I am most happy sitting at home on a Sunday afternoon in a Giants t-shirt, yelling at the television, and drinking a glass of wine.


Although I never played organized football, football has taught me a lot beyond the field:

 

#1:Embrace your passion.

I learned the importance of embracing your passions, even if it clashes with who people initially believe you are. In fact, it is those unexpected nuances of ourselves that make us unique.

 

#2: If the solution does not exist, create it yourself.

I learned that it can be fairly isolating not keeping up with football in a male-dominated industry. My passion for football served as an advantage to interact and connect with senior leadership beyond the workplace. I wanted a way to easily stay connected to the season without putting in the time that I no longer had watching games. I wanted theSkimm for the NFL, but found that it did not exist. I did not want the boring, detail-ridden summaries. I wanted the headlines, and I wanted those headlines to be entertaining to read. As business school students do, I decided to create the solution myself and launch Monday Morning Football, a weekly newsletter about the NFL that gives you all you need and some laughs in a three-minute read on Monday mornings.

 

#3:Women deserve their own league!

IMG_8097.JPG

I learned how much I wish girls’ football leagues had started earlier. If you think I can throw a mean spiral, I can throw an even meaner tackle –and I am sure I’m not the only one!

 

Kelly is the co-founder of Monday Morning Football, a fun and easy weekly newsletter for football enthusiasts. She is currently a MBA candidate at Duke University - The Fuqua School of Business. Prior to pursuing her MBA, Kelly worked at ClassPass in business intelligence and at Facebook in payments.