Hey, everyone! My name is Michelle, and I happen to be married to Jay “The Creator” Boychuk. Before you ask: no, I do not play footbag. I did try it for a summer, but I started enjoying the after-session stretching a lot more than playing, and ended up getting obsessed with yoga instead. Every time I go back to it, I remember that footbag just isn’t for me… and that’s okay! Footbag is an extremely intensive sport, requiring mental traits that many people just don’t have. Footbag is also unique in the way that the community aspect of it is just as important as actually playing. Because of this, going to an event could be more compared to going to a social gathering rather than a strict tournament. Unique pros and cons come from this dynamic, which are especially blatant to an outsider attending a footbag jam or tournament.
I wrote this little article to hopefully help out both the footbagger who wants to bring his or her non-footbag-playing significant other to an event, as well as the non-footbagger who wants to support their partner, but has no experience with footbag jams or tournaments. As the latter, I have experience being completely naïve about the footbag community and how events work. If you have the wrong expectations, it is easy to end up feeling very awkward and isolated, as well as create tension between you and your parter. So, I came up with what I think are three very important pointers for both the footbagger and non-footbagger to keep in mind when the player is deciding to bring his or her significant other to a footbag event.
Footbagger Tip #1) Don’t expect your S.O. to stick around and watch you play forever.
Even if (s)he expresses interest in watching you play (because it is fun, don’t get me wrong), you have to remember that you are not dating a footbagger, and that footbag looks extremely repetitive after a certain amount of time. Being at a tournament or jam is exhilarating. You are playing with and talking to people you haven’t seen in a long time, or only ever chatted online with. That is something to be excited about. But your excitement is not your S.O.’s, and neither are your footbag friends. Don’t be surprised if (s)he wanders off to buy a coffee, check out a shop, or explore the area for a while, during your session. Encourage it, in fact! Just be sure to communicate somehow when and where to meet up again.
Non-Footbagger Tip #1) Don’t expect a footbag trip to be a sightseeing trip.
Your S.O. invites you to a tournament in a country/state/city that you have never been to! Sweet! Just remember that this is a footbag trip, and not a holiday. You won’t be staying at a five-star hotel with a view of the Eiffel Tower. Likely, you will be spending most of your time hanging out at someone’s house in some suburb that looks nowhere near as glamorous as Google Images made this new place seem. Your S.O. is here to play footbag. Of course, there could be a day or two where they will go out for some simple sightseeing, but don’t count on it to make or break your trip, especially if your S.O. has been there for events before. It may sound disheartening, but this kind of travel, in my opinion, is far superior. You will get to see the city or area from the perspective of the locals, and that is something that is extremely hard to get as a tourist.
For example, one of the first out-of-country jams that I accompanied Jay to was in NYC, a city I had been to once for a high school trip. With Matt Cross guiding us, I experienced NYC in a completely different way. He took us to swing dance bars, amazing pizza places, and basement parties with people jamming out to blues music. Things that are near impossible to find or experience if you didn’t live there for several years. I feel like this is important to know for life in general, so I will state again, for maximum effect: when going to a footbag jam or tournament, let go of any touristy expectations you may have. Relax, and enjoy the experience from the perspective of the locals. It is way more rewarding.
Footbagger Tip #2) Don’t give your S.O. attention over playing footbag.
It may seem a little harsh, but let’s be honest: You came to participate and your S.O. should understand that. Don’t sacrifice time with the people you likely put a lot of effort and money into seeing. Of course, bring your S.O. around to your hangouts and dinner outings, but don’t skip competition just to keep your S.O. company. It took Jay and I a few trips to figure out this balance.
Non-Footbagger Tip #2) Don’t expect your S.O. to give you constant attention.
This one works both ways. Again, (s)he is there to play footbag. Footbaggers have friends all over the world that they only get to see a few times a year, and that is very important to them. Because of this, you are going to have to be a little more independent than usual during sessions and competitions. Pre- or post-shred hangouts are fair game, though, as it is completely natural to want to stick around your partner while you are surrounded by people you don’t know (unless you are one of those social butterflies that loves to meet new people, in which case: props, and I am very jealous of your abilities).
Footbagger Tip #3) Be very clear about your plans in order to not give false expectations.
Sure, you have tons of cool stories about all the parties you went to in Helsinki, or the interesting dinners you had in Berlin, but don’t lead your S.O. into thinking that jams and tournaments are one huge celebration. Before you even get into the car together, be clear about the schedule, where you are sleeping, and with whom. (S)he could be excited for the outings and parties, but might not be expecting to sit through the four-hour footbag session that precedes it, as well as crashing in someone’s basement between six other people.
Non-Footbagger Tip #3) Plan ahead.
Assuming your footbagging S.O. follows the last rule, you should have an idea in your head of how much downtime you will have. Don’t get stuck in a gym in the middle of nowhere during a very long footbag session with nothing to do. Be it actively filming footbag with others, or reading alone somewhere, be sure to have some sort of plan. A “quick session” can easily end up carrying on for a long time, and you don’t want to end up with nothing but your phone to stare at.
In conclusion, footbaggers: keep having fun, and let your S.O. enhance the fun! Non-footbaggers: in general, don’t be afraid to let your guard down to enjoy the people and the experience! Dating a footbagger is a very unique adventure, and you will appreciate the plethora of incomparable experiences and friendships that you will get out of it.
Written by Michelle Boychuk
Image by Kevin Hogan