Richmond Renaissance – Day 19
With just two days left in my Richmond adventures, it was time to face my fears and take on the major event of the Richmond area for summer 2013. The Redskins Training Camp moved to Richmond for the first time this summer, lured by a roughly $14 million investment from the Commonwealth of Virginia. And, believe it or not, the event is completely free to attend.
For most people, attending a football training camp would be relaxing and fun. For me, whose only exposure to football has been attending a small handful of games in high school and college and analyzing the organization of the Superbowl stream, it triggers all these anxieties . . . What am I supposed to do there? What am I supposed to wear? This is not really my crowd. But I decided to be brave and take on this “challenge” and be ready to laugh when I embarrassed myself.
But first, I had some time to kill before the training camp began so I went to see something that was right up my alley . . . quilts! While I tried not to repeat adventures during my 20 days in Richmond, the Virginia Historical Society had just changed over their current exhibitions to one about historic bed coverings. I truly was excited to see it and glad that the timing just happened to work out.
This is not a huge exhibit so I don’t want to share too much and ruin it for anyone who wants to go, but I will share a few of the very neat things from this exhibit. I loved it! The artistry was beautiful but there is also a neat historical connection thinking about sleeping, one of the rare activities that has been essentially unchanged by time.
After the exhibit, we found some things to interest my son, like the sword and gun exhibit. I found these replicas of Civil War bullets that were fascinating. At Civil War gift shops you can find a lot of old bullets but they never have the paper gunpowder wrappers attached. I didn’t realize they had paper wrappers.
We stopped to browse the gift shop on the way out, finding some neat ideas for Christmas presents.
Then, it was time! We set off for the training camp. We parked in the designated $5 parking area and were told that we could board a shuttle to the camp for $2 per person. The shuttle was a cute trolley. There weren’t many people in line (perhaps 50) and the trolley filled after about half the line had boarded. They promised to be back in 15 minutes. Rather than wait 15 minutes, we decided to just hoof it the 1 mile to the stadium.
It was pretty quick to reach the gates of the stadium but then the sidewalk traffic pattern makes you walk the length of the entire stadium to get to the front entrance and then walk the entire length of the stadium again to get to the seating. I like to think of it as training camp for the fans. But we made it and hey, it’s a free peek at an NFL team!
My favorite cartoon shows an arts reporter in a news helicopter filling in for the traffic reporter. She begins to describe the traffic as “a medley of blues and greens punctuated by sparks of red.” When it comes to reporting about football, this blog post is going to be a lot like that arts reporter. I have no idea what I am talking about here.
The only thing I know about the Redskins is completely nerdy, although significant. In my law school trademark class we learned that the Redskins federal trademark has been challenged for being disparaging to Native Americans. Apparently it has survived cancellation lawsuits by Native American groups but bills have been recently introduced in Congress to prevent the use of the name “redskins.”
My first question about this event is whether anyone would come. I had been in Richmond for almost a month and while I noticed signs like these go up when the training camp started . . .
I didn’t notice a huge spike in traffic or fans walking around.
Should I have worried? Well, here’s a peek at how many people showed up on a Thursday afternoon.
It was packed. There were three tiers of seating. The first was for VIPs which seemed to be members of the media and certain season ticket subscribers. There was another elite section of seating for people in wheelchairs, which was a nice touch. The rest of us packed along one of the sidelines or the opposite goalpost.
I started off along the sideline. It was hard to see much there plus the team was playing closer to the VIP section.
The camp started around 1:00 p.m. or so. There was no announcer, no music, no Jumbotron–just a bunch of people sitting and standing and the team moving around randomly. They weren’t playing an actual game as far as I could tell.
I asked a man standing nearby what was going on as I was clearly lost. To my surprise, he confessed that he had no idea what was going on either! Since this was the first time there was a training camp in Richmond, nobody knew what to expect.
I tried to watch and understand the training but I was just lost. In one exercise, 6 football players line up 3 against 3. The coach yells something or perhaps blows a whistle and they all run to the right for about 5 or 6 quick steps then tap each other on the chest. It’s not a tackle, just a touch and it’s all over in about 5 seconds. The coach then gives feedback about how the players did this exercise. The coach was lifting both his arms up as if to say something like “twist when you are doing that.” I don’t know what this was about or how this exercise was helpful. I can only assume it would be like an outsider watching a ballet practice when the dancers are doing warm-ups like plies and tendus.
The players were so far away that it was hard to judge their size. The only thing I noticed is that the coaches usually looked tiny compared to the players.
We stood near the sidelines for about an hour or so and then moved toward the endzone. This was by far the superior seating and view. I don’t know why we didn’t come here sooner!
I still had no idea what was going on and I found it amazing how dedicated the fans were to sit there hour after hour watching all of this with no commentary to understand the actions. I struck up a conversation with a older gentleman sitting nearby. He said he was a widower and had been coming to watch the practices several times. He told me that I should watch more TV so I understand what is going on!
We didn’t have any other activities planned for the afternoon so I amused myself by observing football fashion.
First, on the football player side, the team wears three different jerseys – the cranberry/maroon color, a yellow gold and a white. They have three different colors of shoes, white, black and red/yellow.
Each player seemed to have a different combination of gear on but there was one player who stood out.
After surveying the player fashion, I found it interesting to look at the crowd fashion as well. When I was choosing what to wear to this event, I decided to borrow a cranberry T-shirt from my husband and pair it with a casual tan-colored skirt. I didn’t expect to win any fashion points but I hoped I would at least blend in.
If you want to be a well-dressed football fan, there are a couple of ground rules. You can’t go wrong wearing a football jersey. Interestingly, whether you are male or female, this look works best if you have a few extra pounds or have a large frame. If you have the build to carry it off, the jersey gives authority and also has a slimming effect much like wearing a formal suit. The skinnier you are, male or female, the harder it is to look good in a football jersey.
|You can set yourself apart in your choice of jersey by choosing the number of a less well-known member of the team or choosing one of the team’s alternate jersey colors rather than the main color.
Accessories are great but you have to be careful with them. You can’t go wrong with the standard baseball cap. Visors are tricky. There is nothing more adorable than a little boy holding a football at these events and little girls can have fun with tutus and mini cheer outfits.
For women, if you want to look like an ex-cheerleader, pair your jersey with a pair of tight-fitting black capris, white socks and white athletic shoes. Many women paired their jerseys with white pants or capris, which worked well too.
If you want to look like the wife of the owner of the team, don’t wear a jersey and instead pick something fashion-forward like white slacks, a black and white striped shirt and big sunglasses, like one lady I saw.
But honestly, there were no rules and people generally wore whatever they wanted to.
Believe it or not, the latest issue of Vogue has NFL fashion ads in the last pages! The glamour girl football fan wears a slim-fitting women’s jersey, floral printed skirt and lots and lots of jewelry!
As for my son, he amused himself by finding various rocks and throwing them.
Then he took a long snooze.
I ended up carry him the entire 1 mile back to the car and he slept the entire way! When he looks at our photos of this event, he says, “ball!” so the event obviously made an impression on him.