by Basil Al-Qaneh
As the sun kissed my forehead, my heart raced in excitement at the sight of the giant fluorescent orange and green letters that spelled “FedEx Field” at the top of the football stadium. From the mere sight of the sign, I already feel sucked into the electrified atmosphere, which has captured every Redskins fan in the stadium area. After a long and arduous car ride, the mere sight of the enormous sea of burgundy and gold jerseys herding into the stadium to watch their favorite team play is as refreshing as returning home after a long journey.
With the inside of my jersey feeling like a sauna in the eighty plus degree heat, I feel agitation with euphoria until I am temporarily relieved by the shady oak and pine trees that accompany me on my way through the parking lot. The whole crowd marches together as one, carrying this infectious positive energy into the stadium. Everyone feels the same, no matter what race, gender, or sexual orientation; today we are all Redskins fans.
The dark pavement is glistening from the previous night’s rain as it absorbs the heat and welcomes tailgaters from all over Virginia. The charcoal and gas powered grills fill the air with the aroma of barbequed chicken, sausage, and burgers. The sight of my fellow Redskins fan’s tailgate makes my mouth water while my stomach reminds me that it has had enough food for the time being. Viewing these total strangers having fun and sharing food, alcohol, and music together gives me a kick of adrenaline that feeds directly into my subconscious as an amazing feeling of camaraderie. This only accelerates the electricity, feelings of pride, and unity of the stadium. The giant lampposts are both impressive and intimidating with their height and mass, while the thought of “what if this falls over and hits something?” begins to creep into my head.
The zigzag pattern of our walk to the stadium is both tedious and exciting as my brother and I begin to see more clearly exterior workings of the stadium. We leave behind the sight of the tailgate and our fellow fans, the smell of grill smoke, gasoline, and barbeque, the sound of “Go Redskins! Woo!” in the background as we feel a touch of sweat running down our foreheads in the summer heat. However, when the sound of “Skins suck! Go Bills!” comes from one feisty fan, there is a simultaneous glare from every Redskin fan in the vicinity that lasts a good 5 seconds until we all yell “Boo!!” in a semi playful manner. We welcome in the sight of the beige stairs as well as the un-pleasantries of a long line through security. My brother and I stand in the line as the tall and decorated columns that hold up the coliseum known as FedEx Field fascinate us.
The musty atmosphere in the interior of the stadium has an almost construction site like feel to it that is comparable to the inside of Home Depot. This was complemented by a flurry of concession stands that spanned the whole circumference of the stadium. The shiny taps at all the stadium bars catch my eye as my nose is ambushed by the delicious smell of burgers in French fries. As we struggle to weave in and out of the condensed crowd, I cannot help but notice the stream of televisions attached to the ceiling that broadcast the game. The banners of ESPN and NFL network attract my attention for moments at a time. As I walk by the Redskins store I am blown away by the sheer amount of merchandise it contains. The products range from bobble heads, jerseys, hats, sweaters, scarves, and sunglasses that all have the unifying colors of burgundy and gold. The sight of these props only amplifies the feelings of Redskins pride and camaraderie I have building up in my subconscious.
As we finish buying our delicious Johnny Rockets burgers, I am hit by another enormous wave of anxiousness and euphoria when we begin to make our way to our seats. With each step that I take towards the seating area exit, I feel like a man who rushes to the first sight of light after being trapped underground for a very long time. When my brother and I finally capture the field with our own two eyes, we are hit with the sight of a long lush green football field with the Redskins logo in the center. As we make our way down to our fluorescent orange seats, we are ambushed by the sight of the flag twirlers and cheerleaders performing on the field with high enthusiasm.
The ten-minute countdown until the start of the game feels like an eternity as the excitement continues to build up in the hearts and minds of every Redskins fan in the stadium. As I wait for the countdown to be over I begin to think to myself “What if I ever became a professional athlete?” However, soon after I tell myself “I wouldn’t be able to come to a game like this!” This thought sends a contagious wave joy of excitement to my subconscious that feeds into the already volcanic energy of the stadium. As the countdown reaches less than 5 minutes, my brother, and I decide to go back inside and buy another batch of golden delicious French fries that would taste as if they had been sent down by the fast food gods.
Making our way back to our seating area, we turn to sidelines and see the Redskins players dressed in their burgundy jerseys and gold pants forming a circle around a single player in the center speaking to the team. As the players move closer and closer to the center player and begin to chant, I feel a rush of adrenaline shoot up my spine as their intensity and focus echoes to my own body. As the team’s fight song blasts through the speakers at the stadium, I take my seat, feast down on the crunchy golden French fries, and watch the home team’s place kicker put the ball on the tee. At this moment, the electric atmosphere that has been steadily climbing since the tailgate at the parking lot erupts. With a thrust of the kicker’s foot, the ball is launched off, and rocketing through the sky, it signals that the game has finally begun.