August 31, 2012 10:03:56 AM
Jeff Clark - [email protected]
The beginning of college football season is a rite of passage for many men in the South. It is a much-lauded, much-discussed subject year-round, but it can also be a source of contention in many homes, as some wives may feel they have a rival for their affection in Lady Football.
One local football fan hopes to help give wives and girlfriends and the football-uninitiated the skills needed to engage in "conversational football," or "football for women."
Officially known as "Football Fanship 101," the six-week continuing education course at Mississippi University for Women is part of its Life Enrichment Program. First-time instructor Dana Seymour said she hopes to make the language of football less confusing for her students.
"I have been to a lot of football games with friends who didn't know anything about football," said Seymour, 42. "I just want (my students) to be able to have a conversation about football with their guy friends. It is almost another language -- this is conversational football."
A native of New Orleans and a LSU graduate, Seymour works in the College of Education at MSU. A lifelong football fan, Seymour, who also worked at MUW, said she had no idea she was going to be asked to teach the inaugural football class.
"I'm a Louisiana girl -- this is the furthest north I have ever lived," Seymour said with an infectious laugh. "I worked at MUW before going to MSU. The director of the continuing education program asked me to teach a class. I was getting all of these ideas together I thought would be great -- I was going to teach Cajun cooking or a history of New Orleans class, something like that. The director came back to me and told me the board wanted me to teach a football class for women. I thought, 'Well, I didn't see that coming.' But I said I would do it. I have no idea what the incoming knowledge of football will be."
Seymour, who is naturally charismatic and charming, grew up in a family of three girls. She said her father was a longtime New Orleans Saints fan and she inherited his passion for the game.
"Dad was always a Saints fan," she said. "He always needed people to go to the Saints games with him, but they weren't doing too well in those days and no one wanted to go. So, I started going with him -- I always went. It was the thing we did. I still watch the Saints on Sunday. When I was 8 or 9, my sisters wanted dolls and Barbie's Dream House for Christmas. All I wanted was a Bert Jones-autographed football. I'm not sure how he did it, but my dad got me one. I still have it."
Although her father died when she was a teenager, her passion for football never waned, although it took a slightly altered course.
"I liked the NFL so much when I was a child, so much in fact that when I was in first grade, I wanted to write the roster for every NFL team," said Seymour with a sparkle in her eyes. "My dad spent hours helping me write that. When I got into college, the NFL thing just seemed too big to follow, so I got more into SEC football. I started going to my first LSU games in the 1980s. Once I started going to the games and sitting in the student section, I was hooked."
Today, Seymour has two children of her own, and neither, she said, is particularly into football. When asked if her class is going to be gender specific, she replied, "I would love to have a mixed class. It would take a pretty secure guy to take a beginning football class taught by a woman."
And while she is in the process of making a syllabus and defining her methodology, Seymour said participants should know one thing: She will be teaching a class on football. "The suggestion was made to me that I could take my students tailgating. But this isn't a tailgating class," she said with a laugh.
The Football Fanship 101 class will begin Sept. 17. It will meet once a week until Oct. 22. For more information, please go to MUW.edu.