Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - There are quite a few important things missing from the latest "How much does it cost to take your family to an NFL game" study.
Aggravation. Time. Loss of fingernails. A not-so-clean bathroom. There are others, but we'll start from here.
The study tells us that to take a family of four to an NFL game, you'll be dropping over $400 (not surprisingly, that number has risen substantially in each of the last six years and it says here it won't be trending down anytime soon).
For your 400-plus bucks, you get four tickets, a spot to park your car, a couple of hot dogs, a couple of beers and sodas, a game program and team hats for your kids.
Take a breath.
Now, add in the aggravation of getting to that parking space, how you have to leave early for the game to get there, only to find many others who arrived well before you did and took up multiple parking spaces for their tailgates. That will shatter some nerves.
Tell me, do you really want to take your kids to a game and sit among 60,000 rabid fans, many of whom are, well, lubricated? I don't, either.
The language is alarming. The exposed upper bodies of the maniacs who disrobe and paint themselves in team colors (and you should see the guys, too - bad, but still a funny old joke) is more than alarming, and the chance of a fight or three breaking out.
Expose my kids to this? No thanks. You end up worrying more about them than anything going on on the field, and that's no fun.
And those beers you got for your 400 clams, I'm not sure you want to drink them because if you do you'll have to go to the bathroom. That is another adventure, especially if your 5-year-old needs to go, too.
Pro football, I've found, is fine if it's just you and your buddies. You know what to expect; hopefully, you know how to react and when to exit.
Bring the family and beware. And heaven forbid if the home team is playing badly and losing. That's never good.
Ah, but I offer a solution. One that helps the community, lets you keep your fingernails and lets you keep a hold of your wallet.
Just take the family to a high school game. That's what I do.
Your kids will love it, trust me.
They don't care if the product on the field isn't NFL-quality. To them, it's still an event.
The school band (maybe at the one in which your kids will be attending) provides the music. The cheerleaders, maybe even the girl from down the street, keep the crowd going, and there are plenty of familiar faces in the crowd.
Plus, and this is a biggie with kids, the game is over in just over two hours. The players don't stand around and chit chat on the field while waiting for the commercials to end. And when the quarter is over, the ref just picks up the ball, moves it to the other side of the field and away we go.
Parking's free. The concession stand is cheap. Tickets, although they, too, have increased over the years, are still a bargain.
Maybe, just maybe, if you splurge for a whole lot of food, you're dropping $50. And the whole thing, from when you left the house to when you get home, is probably three hours. And your kids will be talking about it for days and will want to go back. You can't beat it.
And the biggest thing is the peace of mind. The whole high school atmosphere is fun (a cynic might say that's because there's no alcohol, but ...).
When the whole family can have fun, and you still get to watch a game, I'll take that every time and leave the NFL watching for my television.
Drew Markol has been a sportswriter and columnist for several Philadelphia-area newspapers for over 25 years.