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How to Survive a Preseason Football Game

Fact: It Won't Be Easy

By Michael Gehlken
|  Saturday, Aug 14, 2010  |  Updated 7:20 AM PDT
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How to Survive a Preseason Football Game

Don Boomer/North County Times

Chargers fans are stunned after the team lost 17-14 to the New York Jets at Qualcomm on Sunday.

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Fact: On Saturday at 6 p.m., Chargers football will be played at Qualcomm Stadium.

Fact: Big names like Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates will take the field against the Chicago Bears.

Fiction: That will be enough to keep most fans from being absolutely bored out of their minds.

Ah yes, welcome to preseason football, where the stadiums aren't filled, the winner doesn't matter, and only the drunkest fans can happily sit through an entire game.

This is like the family event that only your half-blind grandma wants to go to, except this event happens four times in four weeks, and there's an unforgivable $54 to $98 cover charge at the door.

Thanks a lot, Nana.

What's worse is once you're inside, you'll spend most of the night watching players you don't recognize, thinking, “Gosh, I paid good money to get in here. And it is football. I might as well stay. But I am bored; I really should go. Oh, I'll just stay.”

It's the center of football's death cycle. Practices have their “hell weeks.” These glorified scrimmages are purgatory. The season and playoffs are heaven.

So how do you survive football purgatory? With two basic steps: acquire perspective and know what to look for.

Your perspective: The scoreboard is pointless, but the game isn't. Important events can happen.

There can be breakout stars. There can be huge hits. There can be terrific plays. There can be injuries. Your mindset is to wait for one of them to happen.

Obviously, you're holding your breath that no major injury occurs, especially toward the start of the game. There's nothing worse than a star player going down in the preseason. It happens every year to some team. You just hope it doesn't happen to yours.

What to look for: At times, it could be a rookie. At other times, it could be a position battle. Know the interesting angles beforehand and anticipate them.

On Saturday, I'll post a list of subplots to follow throughout the game. That list, along with some perspective, ought to be enough to survive.

I know. Sports shouldn't be this difficult to enjoy.

Fact: Football heaven is only four weeks away.

Fact: It can't come soon enough.

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