Everyone remembers the first time that they were taken to an NFL game as a kid. The ball of excitement in your stomach that started on a Monday and reached a ferocious heat come Saturday morning.
The smell of the hot dog stalls wafting into your nostrils as you approached the stadium and tilted your neck back to get it all in. Then the most memorable moment of all, walking up the steps to your seat and catching that first glimpse of the field.
Unfortunately that experience is a once in a lifetime kind of thing, we can’t go back and experience all those emotions again but, what you can do is give your kids that same feeling by taking them to their first NFL game.
But just how do you ensure that the occasion is as memorable as possible for your NFL loving child? How old should they be before you consider taking them to the game? Read on to find out.
Is there an age limit?
No, you can bring a child of any age to an NFL game but this doesn’t mean that you should. You want your child to enjoy the experience of going to an NFL game and, ideally, you want it to provide them with a memory they can cherish.
Which is why we think you shouldn’t look to take your child to their first NFL game until they are at least 7. There are 60 minutes of action in an NFL game, but because of injuries and breaks, most games end up lasting around 4 hours, which is simply too long for very young children.
There’s no way that a 3 year old is going to sit still for four hours watching a game without getting bored, cranky or downright tired. That’s why we’ve said 7, as that’s roughly about the age that kids become sufficiently obsessed with football to be able to sit and watch a game in full.
Now that’s not a hard and fast rule. If you think your 5-year-old has the attention span to sit through an entire game then take them along. Likewise if you think your 10-year-old doesn’t have the patience for a four hour game, hold off for a couple more years.
(NFL games can be long, make sure your kid has the attention span to sit through a
Picking the Right Game
There is no way of guaranteeing the right result for your child’s first game, but there are things that you can do to make sure the day is as memorable as possible. Kids will be happy with one of two things, either seeing their team win or seeing their team play against one of the biggest teams in the league.
If you’re not too savvy about football yourself, check out the NFL odds and pick a game in which the bookmakers have your team down as heavy favourites to win. If your local NFL team isn’t likely to be a heavy favourite in any game, try and take your kid to one of the most high-profile games.
They likely won’t mind seeing their team lose too much if they get to see Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers or Josh Allen up close.
(Don’t forget to get good seats too, you want to make sure your kid has the best view possible of all the game action.)
Nailing the Matchday Experience
Now you’ve picked your game, you’re going to want to pull out all the stops to make sure that the day is as memorable as possible, but how exactly do you do that? Here are some really useful and practical tips:
- Arrive Early: Excitement is paramount for kids, whether that’s building up to Christmas day or their first NFL game so get there early and let them build their excitement levels before kick-off.
- Buy a Souvenir: Official garments are expensive, but this is a once in a lifetime experience for your kid so take them to the team store and buy them something official to remember the day by, a jersey, a hat, anything, as long as it has the team badge on it.
- Grab a Gameday Snack: Going to the game and getting a hotdog or a burger is all part of the experience, treat your kid to the best in match day food.
- Teach Them the Chants: Before the game, in the days leading up to it, teach your kids their teams most popular chants and in the stadium encourage them to get involved and sing along whenever the opportunity arrives.
- Take your Seat Early: You might not care for the pre-game warm ups but your kids sure will. They’ll want to see what cleats the players are wearing, who they talk to and what they practice before a game.
- Get Involved: If you’re excited and you’re engaged in the action your kids will be too. Don’t be afraid to nail your colours to the mast and really get behind your team throughout the game as it will be sure to rub off on your kids.
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