Friends, Food, Football and Fun!!!
This past Sunday, I took both of my sons to their first NFL game. I have to say it was one of the best days and experiences we’ve had.
We met up with some other dads who work with All Pro Dad and their sons to watch the Indianapolis Colts host the Jacksonville Jaguars.
I enjoy watching the Colts and other NFL teams on Sundays. My boys are 5 and 9, so at their ages they enjoy playing the game more than they do watching. Well, at least more than watching on TV.
But I think going to an actual NFL game was pretty fun for them, too. It was a long day for them, especially on a Sunday. All Pro Dad had a block of tickets that included field access before the stadium opened up, so we had to be there by 9 a.m. although the game didn’t start until 1 p.m.
We had to wake up by 6 a.m., and leave by 8 in order to get dressed, eat, drive, find parking and walk to the gate.
Even though it was an early morning and long day, when we came home later in the evening, not one of us was tired. We were actually still energized.
Football is a fun and exciting sport in itself. And the NFL does an amazing job of making the experience of a game even better. Below is a list things we enjoyed. Consider them suggestions for your children’s first in-person NFL game experience.
Represent your team. There is nothing like representing your team on game day, especially live and in person. My boys donned some throwback Colts jerseys. Our youngest wore No. 18, Peyton Manning, and our oldest wore a No. 50 David Thornton jersey, which was a personal gift from David several years ago. My sons were beaming when they put their gear on, and we were all in Colts blue and sporting the horseshoe.Arrive early. A 6 a.m. rise on a Sunday is early for us, but getting to the stadium so early allowed us to take in a lot. We were there before some of the outdoor experiences were open, so my boys were first in line and got to go multiple times on some activities. So much so that they got physically tired.Grab some freebies. Sometimes, the more stuff kids get the happier they are. Even if they are things you know may end up in the bottom of their drawers or toy bins. From bead necklaces to game programs to player posters, my boys came home with a bag full of stuff. Let them fill their bags. Just make sure you bring a clear plastic bag to ensure entry into the game per NFL stadium rules.Official souvenirs. The freebies are cool, but getting an official licensed team souvenir is awesome. I’m not encouraging you to go broke buying souvenirs, but budget a certain amount and grab something they can keep as a reminder of the great experience they had at their first NFL game.Grab a bite before the game. If you get to the stadium a few hours before game time, make sure you grab something to eat before going into the stadium. We enjoyed the outdoor Touchdown Town activities for a while, then went and grabbed a quick bite to eat within walking distance to make sure hunger didn’t cause any problems early in the game.Get to your seats early. After eating, we returned to the stadium and made sure to get to our seats early. I’m glad we left plenty of time because there were a ton of people, and we had a long walk up the ramps to our seats. But we got to our seats in time to see some of warm-ups, all of the starting lineup intros and take in the fun stuff and sea of blue all around the stadium.Point out all the little things. Our 9-year-old is at the point where he is tracking and following the games. I made sure to show the 9-year-old where the scoreboard is and how to read it, the benches and as much game-related stuff as possible. I made sure to show our 5-year-old the Jumbotron, mascots and answer any questions he had. While game action was happening and during breaks, they had things to enjoy and keep their attention in addition to our conversation.Don’t sugar them up. Of course my kids wanted cotton candy the minute they saw it. I knew if I gave in we may be in trouble later. So, we made the beginning of the second and fourth quarters our concession trips. It worked great. No candy highs and crashes, and they didn’t come home famished, which made my wife happy.Don’t rush out. The game was pretty much over early in the fourth quarter. The final score was 23-3, but we wanted to stay and enjoy as much as we could. We allowed the crowd to file out, then we slowly left and enjoyed walking through the stadium with small crowds so my boys could run, jump and replay some of the plays they just witnessed.Enjoy it like it’s your first NFL game. The best thing to do is just enjoy the game and experience like you are at your first NFL game, too. I was just as excited, cheered just as loud, stood up just as tall during the wave and was just as amazed when I saw an exciting play as my kids did through it all. And don’t forget to take pictures.
Football is a great game, and the NFL creates great experiences. What’s one of your favorite NFL-related experiences?