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How are the Football and Starbucks Experience are Related

On any Sunday during fall, many people are one of two places, Starbucks or headed to the football stadium. If you are taking part in both experiences, it’s what some might consider perfection. Thousands of people take pride in their coffee, just as they do in the football team they drive hours to see. The Starbucks and football experiences are similar in more ways than they may seem. First off, let’s look at why someone might go to Starbucks over some other coffee company. Besides the obvious of great coffee, people go to Starbucks for the community and relationships. If you are a regular patron of the Starbucks in your neighborhood, it is likely the barista’s know your name and drink order. If you are like me, who frequents the Starbucks down the street about three times a week, the baristas and managers know your name and drink order, along with current events in your life. You might always sit at the same table, looking out the window; you might even see the same old men arguing about politics and the rebellious teenagers in their neighborhood. At Starbucks, there’s a sense of belonging. Even if you don’t talk to anyone around you, people recognize you and smile as you walk by.

The relationships that are built at Starbucks may be one of the most unique relationships someone has. The people who work at Starbucks genuinely care about their customers. They know you’re morning routine of getting a grande non-fat white chocolate mocha with no whipped cream and no foam before you go to work. They know about the new internship you got with the local football team. They knew about your sister having a baby and how you became an aunt yesterday. In the small amount of time you are face-to-face with someone they get to look into the window of your life and know you on a personal level. This idea is even true of the people at the tables next to you. You get to talking and you learn about their life, and they learn about yours. You see them every few days and catch up on events. Eventually a relationship is built, solely based on the fact that you both like coffee.

These two things are true about football as well. Going to a football game gives someone a sense of community. If you have season tickets, you walk in the stadium at the same entrance every week where the security guard greets you, and you walk to your seat where you are surrounded by strangers who have become friends. You may go to the same concession stand where the cashier knows you want nachos and a Coors Light. The game finally starts and the small community you have established with the people in the seats near you turns into a community of thousands because you all want one thing: a win for the home team!

The relationships at a football game are no different from the ones at Starbucks. The people who are working the game care about you. Most even want you to feel like you are the most important fan at the stadium. They are strategically placed throughout the concourses to help you find your way and make the most of your game-day experience. The people you surround yourself with, or in this case the people the ticket and front offices have surrounded you with, become family. They know your name, and your strange game day ritual of wearing the same pink armband or lucky sunglasses. You know where they tailgate and how they leave their kid with the same babysitter every Sunday, whether the game is at home or not (when you go to the local sports bar to watch).  You see each other every week or every two weeks and you catch up on life, and what the team has done between then and now. That relationship gets stronger all because two people like to watch football.

There are three typical types of Starbucks patrons: the hipster who reads articles from the internet about how to make gluten-free vegan brownies with maca powder for extra benefits, or the broke college student who gave up a ton of other luxuries to go to a major university but refuses to give up Starbucks, and the business man who works in the high-rise offices downtown. While some people might think Starbucks is just another cup of coffee, it’s more than that. It’s a status symbol. It says you have money because you’re spending upwards of $5 a day on one cup of coffee but it has to be made with soymilk. It says you’re trying to make something of yourself, as you sit down at a table with your biochemistry and nuclear physics books. It says you most likely live in suburbia living the “American Dream.”

Just like Starbucks, there are three types of football patrons: the guy who goes with his buddies for a good time and to drink, the fan who goes to support the hometown team, no matter who they are or how bad their record from the previous season is, and finally the avid fan who has memorized depth charts and rosters from the inaugural season of the team (most likely an older gentleman or student looking to work in sports). These people are also ready to show their status. They all have season tickets to different teams. The group of friends all go to see the Seattle Seahawks, have decent seats but don’t pay the premium price. The hometown fan has tickets for the Jacksonville Jaguars, again with the average seat. They also buy more merchandise each year in hopes they can say they didn’t jump on the bandwagon when the Jags go to the playoffs and win a Super Bowl. The avid fan has tickets to the New England Patriots, in the front row right behind the team bench so he can scream out to Tom Brady as he makes his way to the bench while the defense goes into play. Each of these fans know their place in what some might call the “football fan spectrum” and they know they should only move up in devotion to their team.

Going to Starbucks, for some people, is an instant getaway from everyday life. You can hide yourself in a corner with a book, or iPad and just sit for hours and not talk to anyone and be perfectly content. In the back corner, you don’t care that the headlights on your car aren’t working anymore and need to be replaced, or the fact that you got an “F” on the paper that’s worth 25 percent of the final grade for a class. In the back corner, you are so hidden you barely hear the barista call your name when your coffee is ready. In the back corner, you are whoever you want to be in that moment.

Football, even for just a few hours gives people that getaway from life. You walk up to the stadium and leave your cares locked in the car, much like the old gym shoes in the trunk. Your seat is calling your name and right as the game is about to start the star of the team hears your screams and comes to give you a high-five. At that moment, you know nothing bad can happen inside the stadium because a dream of yours has been fulfilled. In that seat, you are one of thousands of fans who got to lock their cares in the car. In that seat, you don’t care that you have to be at work at 6 am tomorrow morning to finish a project that’s being presented to the president of the company the same day. In that seat, you don’t care that your neighbor’s kids has chicken pox and you promised to watch them later in the week. In that seat, you are the best fan in the world, prepared to help the team demolish the enemy.

So next time you are on the way to the stadium for tailgating, stop at Starbucks across the street from your neighborhood and experience football from a chair while you’re waiting to hear your name called out by the barista. There’s no doubt you’ll hear the roar of a crowd in the background.