Sunday football is the new Monday Night Football. It used to be that bars competed for the Monday Night Football crowd with drink specials and taco bars and $2 foot-long coney dogs.  These days  Monday Night Football business for the bars  is only a wisp of its former self, with patrons having shot their wads on Sunday  sitting with fellow fans in front of their team’s designated plasma, swigging beers and hurling jeers as all around fans of other teams do the same thing. The NFL’s Season Ticket, which costs approximately $3400 a season or $180 a Sunday, has changed the rules for the bar owners and the how American football fans spend there Sundays.

The hot bed of coals that the NFL is building its fire of popularity on  is the die-hard American adult male fan who latched onto a team during childhood when they became aware of pro football. Often the team they bonded with was going through a dynasty period and had a brilliant leader like Staubach and his Cowboys or Montana and his 49’ers. America’s young boys loved football before they discovered girls and most remain loyal to their first love. Like  geese, most men mated for life with their childhood teams though seldom having the same luck with women.

For me it was the Baltimore Colts who dominated the 1968 season, the year I turned ten. Football had not exsisted for me before then. But in the fall of my fourth grade I got caught up in the drama of Bubba Smith and Tom Matte and John Mackey  and the rest of that mighty team as they barrelled through all foes. I followed their classic season in Sports Illustrated, Sport and Life magazines, only occassionally getting to see them play because we only got one game per Sunday back then. But I watched them each game through the playoffs and though that year’s Super Bowl III with the Jets cruelly upsetting my new gridiron heroes was my first and worst, I have never missed a Super Bowl since and I remain a Colts fan more than 4 decades later.

Each Sunday at the Spokane Valley sports bars that carry the NFL Season Ticket, grown men who have been wearing their favorite team’s jersey since Santa brought them their first one back in grade school gather to watch their team.  Unlike the frustrating days of their youth, it does not matter if their game is being broadcast locally or not. The Season Ticket bars have their game. It is a life-long dream come true.

The Sullivan Scoreboard was the first place I saw this miracle three or four years ago. Since that first year I have watched it go from a light crowd to standing room only with owners Scott and Dianna Reckord rubbing their hands together with delight whenever the Cowboys and the Vikings and the Steelers play at the same time. These are the kinds of teams that go way back in the lives of the Amercan male.  Winning Super Bowls and producing dynasties starring legendary heroes, teams like the 49’ers and Packers have fans loyal to them and them only which adds to the fun as one group watching their team has no compassion on the next table watching their own favorite team getting whupped.

The Sullivan Scoreboard has perfected this game on Sundays, serving a hearty breakfast menu until 2 and offering a Bloody Mary the size of a lineman’s left butt cheek. The place is  mid-sized, blue-collared and ball capped with a neighborhoodly feel which helps The Scoreboard attain the most intimate and rowdy feel of  the Season Ticket bars. Only an out-of-towner would sit down at the large round table on the south end before a Dallas game if it happened to be empty even an hour before the 10 oclock game which it probably wouldn’t be. The Cowboy fans own that table, while the guys in the purple and yellow jerseys or the black and yellow guys have their favorite places as well. They root enthusiastically when their teams make a big play and sit sullenly when the opposing team does well, usually having to endure a few taunts from nearby tables who take pleasure in their misery.

Bolo’s is another sports bar in the Spokane Valley that has bought the Ticket for years. They also do well and have their share of team tables. One major difference between them and the Scoreboard is that families are welcome at Bolo’s while no one under 21 is allowed at the Scoreboard.  They have a large projection TV that is capable of showing 4 games at once, which reminds me of the bingo player who is able to pay attention to 10 cards at one time. My mind does not work that way but I wished that it did so I could visually snort that much more football into my system . Another difference is that Bolo’s has a breakfast buffet for around $8.

I suppose this screen would be perfect for those with more than one favorite. NFL fans are like college students in that they tend to have only one major with a couple of minors .

True Legends out at Liberty Lake is a newcomer but like with everything else, owner Perry Vinson catches on very quick and he bought the Season Ticket last year, his first year in business. He also bought an $8,000 high-def TV projector  to go wth the huge screen that came with the building.  While it is not quite as big as the jumbo-trons at NFL stadiums, True Legends is the next best thing to being there.

Being a restaurant, True Legends serves a killer breakfast and is a great place for die hard fans to suggest when the whole family wants to gather for a special occassion like some kid’s untimely birthday party. If you can’t deter them away from celebrating during game time on a Sunday, you can at least try to get them to go out to True Legend’s, where the  dining room,  unlike Chucky Cheese, always has your favorite game on.

Another thing that adds to experience out at True Legends is the ticker tape feed that runs below the screen and keeps updating the latest developements on all the other games.

In the past, fathers went to church and spent the day with their families since the only place they could watch their team would be on local broadcast which everyone had right at home. The Season Ticket which has every team every Sunday has made it much harder for family’s to stay together as Dad is tempted by Terry Bradshaw, Howie Long and the other preachers of pro football. Luckily, The Black Diamond is another Valley newcomer where families can attempt to make Sunday a family day again.

The Black Diamond has 20-some pool tables and an arcade area which can serve as the nursery for the kids while Dad and Mom (more women are being convert to NFLism each year) watch the game. Naturally, the folks are praying the kids will soon understand the meaning of football and accept it as their savior as soon as possible and join the congregation in front of the plasmas. There is no better place for the devout family to worship together than The Black Diamond which also  has a great buffet so the family can also break bread together on the Sabbath.

Praise be ! The Diamond is there for Dad and his delimma. Bring Mom and the kids to the Diamond and keep the Sabbath wholly .... football.

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