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How To Prepare For Next Season

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Take the time to learn how to be a better fan.

Sunday morning, I went for a run down State Street to the Lakeshore Path. Ducking, dodging, and weaving around the very limited foot traffic, I took a different route than usual to ensure I could keep six feet away from everyone. Then I noticed a window with sticky notes. As I lined up the picture you see up top, two thoughts hit me:

  1. This is the easiest zombie apocalypse ever. I have survived multiple outbreaks of the T-Virus, read the oral history of World War Z, saw much of the footage from documentarian George Romero as well as some of the video games of his relative John. Now, the infected don’t chase you! They actively avoid you! You can dual wield soap and cleaning supplies and it’s your BFG9000. There’s electricity, internet, clean water, buildings are still sound, and you don’t have to go through the Racoon City Police Department searching for a chess piece.
  2. I have too much experience being cooped up recently. Before I had my current day job, I was unemployed for months. Free time where your income is limited and a constant sense of worry is a familiar feeling to me. Plus, last October I learned what I thought was my second cold in a month was instead mono. If you’ve never had it, pretend you have a really bad hangover that’s constantly at “the first half hour after waking up” levels of energy and enthusiasm.

Now, with ::arms waving around wildly:: going on, it’s important to focus on something. Here’s what I’m doing to help prepare for the next season.

Take Care Of Yourself

If you are reading this, you are online enough to know what to do from a public health perspective.

But don’t forget about everything else you should do for your health. Eat well, get some exercise in, don’t start with liquor, don’t drink on an empty stomach, have a glass of water in between drinks.

Sure, the gym is off limits, but going was the worst part. Running, biking, and hiking are all great ways to socially isolate and get out of the house. I personally have used the Couch to 5K plan to go from “exercise is awful” to “I guess if I do a half-marathon or two every year I am a runner.”

If you’re in an area where that is not an option, yoga or body-weight workouts will still get you moving. I used to deal a deck of cards to myself, where the suit was the exercise and the value was the reps. What’s important is to develop a workable habit, and try to improve.

Perfect Your Tailgating Contribution

I’m decent at cooking for myself. I have a rotation of chicken + starch + veggies + spices deep enough that I only go out to eat if I don’t have leftovers, or feel obligated to support local businesses that just took it on the chin this month. But I make the absolute best goddamn chocolate chip cookies. There is one sitting on my counter right now, and I know it won’t be there by the time this is published. It’s from Alton Browns’ “I’m Just Here For More Food,” and the exact recipe doesn’t seem to be online.

Here’s a better goal: bake bread. 24 oz of flour, 1.75 cups of water at around 110 degrees F, little salt, a little yeast, let it rise, knead it, let it rise again. If it’s too sticky, add more flour. Slash the top of the dough in a pattern before you throw it into a 400 degree oven for about 35 minutes. Congrats, you can now transition your prehistoric tribe from a hunter-gatherer society to an agriculture-based one. When you’ve gotten that down pat, make a brioche with cheese and red pepper flakes. Now is the perfect time to practice recipes that take a while.

Oh, and you don’t need a bread maker. I have a stand mixer, but you could get away with combining “learn to bake bread” with “exercise” if you knead it yourself. Especially if you want forearms like Popeye and legs like a walleye.

Put Some Deep Cuts On Your Gameday Playlist

In one example, I will clarify exactly what I mean: The Beatles’ “Back In The USSR.” Arguably the most popular band in the world, and this track starts off their magnum opus, one of the defining albums of the 20th century. If you only hear the guitar solo you instantly know the song.

So listen to it on game day! I’m sick of the same collection of AC/DC, Top 40, hair metal and what I’ll hear at Camp Randall. If you need suggestions, cop from GTA Vice City and San Andreas soundtracks, along with Guitar Hero and Rock Band. Video games are cool now. (Editor’s note: Rock didn’t mention it, but I know he approves of adding this song to your gameday playlist.)

Take Some History Lessons

There’s a lot of Wisconsin Badgers games that are played each year. You might have missed some, or forgotten some because you didn’t have a glass of water between drinks. Here’s just a bunch of Badger games on Youtube. I tried throwing anything that was at least a half-hour. There’s absolutely duplicates on it. You have time, you can deal. Football and men’s basketball show up the most, but you can get a taste of Badger volleyball and a handful of hockey games. There’s a three hour broadcast of North Dakota - Wisconsin from ‘86 that I am very excited to check out.

What are you doing to become a better fan?