Why The Off-Season Seems So Long For Me

By Susan Phillips

No one likes the IndyCar off-season. I get that. But I’ll promise you that no one dislikes it more than me. It’s not that I’ll terribly miss watching races and keeping up with the points race. Don’t get me wrong, I love going to races and watching them on TV. But I have other things in my life to keep me occupied and distracted to where it doesn’t leave a huge hole in my life.

But it’s in my household that the off-season void is felt. Now that there are no more races to focus on; my husband George, who usually writes in this space, has turned his weekend attention to football. That’s not a good thing.

I used to love the fall. It used to be my favorite time of year. The brilliant colors, crisp air and blue skies would always put me in a good mood. I always knew George got too emotionally involved in football games that featured either the Titans or Vols. Before we got married, I would go to his house and watch about a half. If they were winning by a large margin, I’d stick around. If things got tight in the second half, that was my cue to leave. Now that we’ve been married for the past five years, I have no place to go unless I go shopping. The thing is, I’d like to watch the game myself.

This past weekend was just way too intense at our house. The Tennessee Vols lost to Florida on the last play of the game Saturday afternoon. When the Florida player caught that ball for a touchdown with no time remaining, the screaming that emanated from his chair was loud enough to wake the dead. Our (my) dog, Pippa, ran out the room in fright. And the words that came out of his mouth were vile enough to offend anyone.

Fortunately, he had set the DVR to record the qualifying for Sonoma. After about twenty minutes of sulking, he turned qualifying on and that proved to be the tonic he needed to get his mind right. On Sunday, the Titans won big so he was relaxed and happy. Then we watched the race at Sonoma that night and got to see Nashville’s own, Josef Newgarden win the championship. He is such a good guy and always seems happy to see us at races. George talks racing with him, but he and I talk high-school hockey, since I was the hockey mom for our team and we always played his school twice a year. We both know a lot of the same people.

But getting back to George and his two sports, I don’t get it. Between the two sports, I’d say he is a bigger IndyCar fan than he is a football fan. But when he watches a race, he never gets mad no matter the outcome. There are drivers he likes better than others, but he never gets mad or upset when his drivers crash or don’t win. He is much more relaxed, whether he’s watching a race in person or on television. Although he is intently watching, he is never too busy to answer any question I have about the race. But if he’s watching a Vols or Titans game, I don’t dare even speak.

Labor Day night, Tennessee was playing Georgia Tech. Midway through the third quarter I couldn’t take it anymore. He sat in that chair complaining about Coach Butch Jones until he was blue in the face. He was asking questions to seemingly no one about the play-calling. It was all too much. He seemed shocked when I told him I was going to bed. I told him I couldn’t take it anymore. He thought I was talking about the game. It was him.

How can he enjoy that? Sometimes I wonder if he’s insane. I think he just enjoys the complaining. When his teams are winning, he doesn’t seem excited. He only gets animated when they are losing. He seems more patient with the Titans because he likes their coach. He never liked Vols coach Butch Jones, and I think he watches just to complain about him. George loved Coach Philip Fulmer and has been jaded about the program ever since they fired him. But that’s been almost ten years ago. He either needs to let it go or just quit watching their games. No good can come out of this.

This is why I hate to see the IndyCar off-season come. The difference in his attitude when he is immersed in racing is night and day. Yes, he goes off on a few tangents he feels strongly about but he is much more pleasant to be around when there is IndyCar racing going on.

And during the month of May, it’s almost therapeutic to be at IMS with him. He walks much faster than I do and he tries to cram a lot into each weekend we are at the track, but it’s his happy place. It’s where he is the most serene that I’ll see him all year.

I enjoy going to Tennessee games in Knoxville. It’s where we first met over forty years ago. We have great memories there and we always go visit our old dorm (Clement Hall) as well as the few remaining bars where we used to hang out. We went to homecoming last year and had a blast because the Vols won 55-0. He couldn’t complain. But a few weeks later we went to the Tennessee-Vanderbilt game in Nashville, where the Vols got stomped. He was in a horrible mood for the rest of the night.

What I can’t figure out is why he gets so much more emotionally invested in football, when I know he likes IndyCar racing better…and I mean a lot better. In his office at work, there is a lone UT mini-football helmet and no Titans artifacts to be found. On his office bookshelf, there are very few books. But you will find a Pippa Mann Susan G. Komen car, a Tony Kanaan 7-Eleven car, an Helio Pennzoil car, an Al Unser, Jr. Valvoline car, the Jim Clark winning Lotus that I got him for Christmas two years ago and the Marmon Wasp that I bought for him three years ago. There is also an AJ Foyt bobble-head and a Tom Carnegie bobble-head to go along with a framed picture that I got him of the Jones & Maley Special, which our (his) dog Maley is named after. All of that goes with the four framed IndyCar prints hanging from his office wall. It’s pretty obvious what sport he loves the most. His office is an IndyCar shrine.


George owns very few Titans and Vols shirts. It’s all IndyCar and Indy 500 apparel. So why does he burn up all of his emotions on what I consider his second favorite sport? It boggles the mind.

Football season will last through January and into the month of February. But it seems right after Christmas, his mindset shifts back to IndyCar racing. Let’s hope so. I don’t think I can take too many days like last Saturday. Now you see what I mean when I say the IndyCar off-season is longer for me than most people. Next season can’t get here soon enough. Is it May yet?

8 Responses to “Why The Off-Season Seems So Long For Me”

  1. George watching football sounds like me watching Butler basketball. My pets leave the room and sometimes my girlfriend leaves the house. The NCAA tournament games are even worse.

  2. As you said, with Indycar you kinda like every driver so it’s hard to get upset no matter the outcome. With football you’re only happy if one thing happens, that has a 50% chance of happening. I’m planning on watching a bunch of old Indycar races this off-season to pass the time.

  3. Does George ever participate in life or does he simply observe life on TV? By participating in life I am not referring to dragging his wife all over IMS looking for the classic tenderloin. It is probably not healthy to allow one’s moods to be affected to such a great degree by the outcome of a football game. Reggie White had a balanced life outside of football that allowed him to keep the games in perspective.

  4. billytheskink Says:

    Can a great sporting victory truly make your day if a devastating loss can not also unmake it? Some would say yes, I would side with no (perhaps not as vehemently as I once did). After all, Jim McKay put “the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat, the human drama of athletic competition” in that particular order for a reason, right?

    I understand where George is coming from. Among my group of football and basketball-watching friends from college, I am known as the hat-thrower… and I’m one of the calmer ones. But man, those victories are sweet.

  5. Dale Christenson Says:

    I have a very difficult time feeling sorry for George on this one. He should live close to Chicago and have to suffer with the Bears and the University of Illinois every year. We get used to pitiful every year.

  6. A leopard can’t change his spots.

    I suggest you buy an MX-5, put the top down and go for drives in the hills with your friends.

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