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I love NFL football, but I'm boycotting this year. 22 things I'll be doing instead.

I love NFL football. But we're officially on a break.

For years, I've watched beloved college players jet off to the NFL, and I continued following their careers, cheering on their successes on teams across the country. Back when I settled down in Kansas City for five years, I became a Chiefs fan, spending many a Sunday with chili on the stove and a beer in my hand, watching my team lose to various others in the AFC West.

But as much as I love the game, the history, the tradition, and, frankly, the routine, I can't do it anymore.


The NFL's dangerous history of welcoming players facing accusations of sexual assault or domestic abuse; the effects of head hits and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE); the league's short-sighted stance on therapeutic cannabis use; and now the blackballing of Colin Kaepernick after his silent demonstrations during "The Star-Spangled Banner" to protest racial inequality. Any of these reasons is enough to walk away, but for me, when examined together, it's hard to ignore.

Activists support NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick outside the offices of the National Football League. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

Like more than 176,000 others, I will be boycotting the 2017 NFL season.

Do I think my boycott will change the league, get Kaepernick a job, or improve the mental and physical health of the players? Nope. But the way I invest my time shows a statement about my priorities and values. This season in particular, my priorities and the NFL's priorities are not in alignment. Not even close.

That may not be the case for you, and that's A-OK. If it brings you joy, watch football. I'm not here to judge or shame. (Especially if you're a Chiefs fan.)

But if you're ready to make a clean break — or maybe just looking to take a few games off — here's a week-by-week breakdown with suggestions on things to watch, do, eat, read, or learn with all of your newfound free time.

September

Week 1: If you're not watching football, watch "football."

The hardest part of any boycott is getting started. Ease the transition by streaming a TV show about football. "Friday Night Lights" is mandatory viewing, but I also recommend two compelling documentary TV series, "Friday Night Tykes" and "Last Chance U."

Week 2: Use your Sundays to try out a new routine.

You know what's tedious? Grocery shopping. You know what's slightly better? Grocery shopping while everyone else is home watching football. Boycott perks!

Week 3: Get kids moving with Fuel Up to Play 60.

FUTP 60 is a partnership between the NFL and the National Dairy Council in collaboration with the USDA to encourage school-based physical activity and structured play along with balanced meals. You don't have to be an NFL player to help out. See what schools are participating in your zip code, and consider donating sports equipment or supplies or volunteering your time.

Torrey Smith shares breakfast with students as part of a FUTP 60 initiative. Photo by Leigh Vogel/Getty Images for Got Milk?

Week 4: Fantasy football is awesome, but have you tried fantasy Congress?

Yeah, it exists. And the stakes have never been higher. I've got Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) in the first round!

October

Week 5: You may know the lyrics to "The Star-Spangled Banner," but do you know the story behind it?

Particularly its oft-forgotten additional verses. Or why we play it before sporting events? Take some time this week to brush up on this interesting piece of American history.

[rebelmouse-image 19531346 dam="1" original_size="750x1125" caption="A U.S. flag with 15 stripes and 15 stars, like the one that was flown Fort McHenry during the War of 1812, frames the Battle Monument in Baltimore. The anthem's lyrics come from "Defence of Fort M'Henry," a poem written in 1814 by Francis Scott Key after he witnessed the bombardment of Fort McHenry by British ships in the war. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images." expand=1]A U.S. flag with 15 stripes and 15 stars, like the one that was flown Fort McHenry during the War of 1812, frames the Battle Monument in Baltimore. The anthem's lyrics come from "Defence of Fort M'Henry," a poem written in 1814 by Francis Scott Key after he witnessed the bombardment of Fort McHenry by British ships in the war. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

Week 6: The NFL hasn't cornered the market on cancer awareness. Do your part.

At the suggestion of NFL defensive lineman Devon Still, whose daughter fought stage 4 neuroblastoma, the NFL will move away from its traditional October "pink out" for breast cancer to instead raise money and awareness for multiple types of cancer. It's debatable how much money they'll actually raise, but you can follow their lead and volunteer or donate to a research or cancer patient support effort in your community.

Week 7: We're halfway through October. Get yourself to a pumpkin patch ASAP!

In the words of the greatest writer of our time, "It's decorative gourd season, motherfuckers." Get yourself some gourds, a pumpkin, and maybe even some apples. Yeah, you should definitely get some apples.

[rebelmouse-image 19531347 dam="1" original_size="750x498" caption="Photo by David Goehring/Flickr." expand=1]Photo by David Goehring/Flickr.

Week 8: You know which team remains undefeated? Team Books.

Looking for a book that celebrates athleticism and the competitive spirit? Check out "The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics" by Daniel James Brown.

November

Week 9: Is now a good time to talk about the angry elephant in the room afraid of sharing his emotions or appearing vulnerable?

Why am I sharing this link to a primer on toxic masculinity in a story about the NFL? No reason. Just thought you might enjoy it. Moving on.

Week 10: It's a bird! It's a plane! Stop guessing — it was a plane.

Ever wonder why the Blue Angels and other coordinated military plane flyovers are "a thing" at football games? I don't want to give it away, but the answer rhymes with schmilitary schmercruitment. But if you're curious, learn how they hit their marks right on cue.

The Blue Angels perform before Super Bowl 50. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images.

Week 11: You know what's just as entertaining as an NFL game? Local art. Come on, gang, I'm serious.

In many cases, there are free or low-cost options too, particularly at schools. Bonus points if you attend a show on a Sunday afternoon. If you think it would be tough to compete with the drama and passion of an NFL game, clearly you haven't seen a community theater production of "Phantom of the Opera."

Week 12: You know what's better than Thanksgiving football? Thanksgiving foods made with love/extra butter.

Strengthen your defenses against Thanksgiving football by busying yourself in the kitchen with a new recipe. Learning how to make a dynamite sweet potato pie is its own reward. No touchdown dance required.

[rebelmouse-image 19531349 dam="1" original_size="750x750" caption="Photo by Albert Sun/Flickr." expand=1]Photo by Albert Sun/Flickr.

Week 13: Brush up on your NFL history, which in a lot of ways is TV history.

In fact, there's one moment in particular people still talk about nearly 50 years later. Nov. 17, 1968, is down in history as "The Heidi Bowl," and it may be one of the biggest TV programming blunders of all time. The short version: Don't start a TV movie when there are 65 seconds left in a football game.

December

Week 14: Get outside and play. Your insides will thank you, and your couch needs a break.

The fresh air will do wonders for your body and mind, especially when it's below 60 degrees outside. (And since it's December, odds are, it is.)

[rebelmouse-image 19531350 dam="1" original_size="750x498" caption="Photo by Andrew Hitchcock/Flickr." expand=1]Photo by Andrew Hitchcock/Flickr.

Week 15: If the best part of the game for you is knocking back cold ones, have you tried brewing your own beer yet?

Admit it, you've thought about it once or twice. How hard can it be, right? Well, actually, it's kind of tricky. But it's nothing you can't handle.

Week 16: When guests gather for the holidays, try board games instead of the big game.

Miss the competition and high drama of the gridiron? Look no further than a fast-paced game of Uno. Or for the real players among us: Taboo. Game nights are all the fun and grit of football but with slightly fewer concussions.

Week 17: You made it to the last week of the regular season. Celebrate by learning the dance to Beyoncé's "Love on Top."

You'll be the hit of the New Year's Eve party or, at the very least, your family room.

January

Wild card round: Midterm elections are exactly 10 months away. Are you ready?

It's playoff time, and things are getting serious. You know what else is serious? Democracy, y'all. Make sure your voter registration is current, and start familiarizing yourself with your legislators and those running against them. Where do they stand on the issues important to you? Unlike football, democracy is not a spectator sport, so get in there and get involved.

People deliver their voter registration forms. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

Divisional round: For all the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave for us, give him the whole weekend.

After all, his day is a "day on," not a day off. Look around your community for volunteer opportunities and community events to celebrate King's life and work.

Conference championships: The Winter Olympics start in less than three weeks. Are you ready?

As the old song goes, "Ain't no party like a Winter Olympics party, cuz a Winter Olympics party has guns on skis."

Photo by Harry How/Getty Images.

Pro Bowl: The best NFL players not playing in the Super Bowl will be in Orlando for the game. But do you know what's better? Pretty much anything.

The NFL keeps trying to make the Pro Bowl "a thing," but it's usually a lackluster game. Skip it and go see "Proud Mary" with Taraji P. Henson. The players would probably rather be there too.

February

The Super Bowl: It's a major event for any city, but consider who it leaves out.

The Super Bowl will be in Minneapolis this year, where the average high temperature in February is 23.7 degrees. While the game will be indoors, people experiencing homelessness in the Twin Cities will likely be displaced to make way for events and festivities for the big game. (Yeah, its happened before.) It's always a good time to support shelters and service organizations helping people in need.

Photo by Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images.

Football has been a part of my routine for so long, I don't know if I'll be able to hold out all season.

But I'm going to try.

Football is so many things to this country — it's tradition, it's family, it's community-building, it's an economic engine. Quitting the game cold turkey will be really difficult. But as the months from February to July remind us, there's life outside of football season, and it's pretty great too.

Planet

Easy (and free!) ways to save the ocean

The ocean is the heart of our planet. It needs our help to be healthy.

Ocean Wise

Volunteers at a local shoreline cleanup

True

The ocean covers over 71% of the Earth’s surface and serves as our planet’s heart. Ocean currents circulate vital heat, moisture, and nutrients around the globe to influence and regulate our climate, similar to the human circulatory system. Cool, right?

Our ocean systems provide us with everything from fresh oxygen to fresh food. We need it to survive and thrive—and when the ocean struggles to function healthfully, the whole world is affected.

Pollution, overfishing, and climate change are the three biggest challenges preventing the ocean from doing its job, and it needs our help now more than ever. Humans created the problem; now humans are responsible for solving it.

#BeOceanWise is a global rallying cry to do what you can for the ocean, because we need the ocean and the ocean needs us. If you’re wondering how—or if—you can make a difference, the answer is a resounding YES. There are a myriad of ways you can help, even if you don’t live near a body of water. For example, you can focus on reducing the amount of plastic you purchase for yourself or your family.

Another easy way to help clean up our oceans is to be aware of what’s known as the “dirty dozen.” Every year, scientists release an updated list of the most-found litter scattered along shorelines. The biggest culprit? Single-use beverage and food items such as foam cups, straws, bottle caps, and cigarette butts. If you can’t cut single-use plastic out of your life completely, we understand. Just make sure to correctly recycle plastic when you are finished using it. A staggering 3 million tons of plastic ends up in our oceans annually. Imagine the difference we could make if everyone recycled!

The 2022 "Dirty Dozen" ListOcean Wise

If you live near a shoreline, help clean it up! Organize or join an effort to take action and make a positive impact in your community alongside your friends, family, or colleagues. You can also tag @oceanwise on social if you spot a beach that needs some love. The location will be added to Ocean Wise’s system so you can submit data on the litter found during future Shoreline Cleanups. This data helps Ocean Wise work with businesses and governments to stop plastic pollution at its source. In Canada, Ocean Wise data helped inform a federal ban on unnecessary single-use plastics. Small but important actions like these greatly help reduce the litter that ends up in our ocean.

Ocean Wise, a conservation organization on a mission to restore and protect our oceans, is focused on empowering and educating everyone from individuals to governments on how to protect our waters. They are making conservation happen through five big initiatives: monitoring and protecting whales, fighting climate change and restoring biodiversity, innovating for a plastic-free ocean, protecting and restoring fish stocks, and finally, educating and empowering youth. The non-profit believes that in order to rebuild a resilient and vibrant ocean within the next ten years, everyone needs to take action.

Become an Ocean Wise ally and share your knowledge with others. The more people who know how badly the ocean needs our help, the better! Now is a great time to commit to being a part of something bigger and get our oceans healthy again.

A guy passes out on his bed eating pizza.

A 29-year-old woman had a baby girl, and after a brief maternity leave, she had to return to work. She couldn't afford childcare, so her husband, 35, reluctantly agreed to watch the baby while she was at work.

“It’s important to know that he’s been unemployed since 2021,” the woman wrote on Reddit’s AITA subforum. “He receives benefits. It’s also important to know that he’s extremely lazy. He doesn’t cook, clean, or help out in any way. I was nervous about leaving her home with her father, but I had no choice.”

The mother had reason to be worried about leaving her baby home alone with her husband, but in the beginning, things seemed fine. “When I came back from work, she was clean and sleeping. The next few times I came home, he was either playing with her, feeding her, or out for a walk with her. I was happy,” she wrote.

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All images provided by Prudential Emerging Visionaries

Collins after being selected by Prudential Emerging Visionaries

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A changemaker is anyone who takes creative action to solve an ongoing problem—be it in one’s own community or throughout the world.

And when it comes to creating positive change, enthusiasm and a fresh perspective can hold just as much power as years of experience. That’s why, every year, Prudential Emerging Visionaries celebrates young people for their innovative solutions to financial and societal challenges in their communities.

This national program awards 25 young leaders (ages 14-18) up to $15,000 to devote to their passion projects. Additionally, winners receive a trip to Prudential’s headquarters in Newark, New Jersey, where they receive coaching, skills development, and networking opportunities with mentors to help take their innovative solutions to the next level.

For 18-year-old Sydnie Collins, one of the 2023 winners, this meant being able to take her podcast, “Perfect Timing,” to the next level.

Since 2020, the Maryland-based teen has provided a safe platform that promotes youth positivity by giving young people the space to celebrate their achievements and combat mental health stigmas. The idea came during the height of Covid-19, when Collins recalled social media “becoming a dark space flooded with news,” which greatly affected her own anxiety and depression.

Knowing that she couldn’t be the only one feeling this way, “Perfect Timing” seemed like a valuable way to give back to her community. Over the course of 109 episodes, Collins has interviewed a wide range of guests—from other young influencers to celebrities, from innovators to nonprofit leaders—all to remind Gen Z that “their dreams are tangible.”

That mission statement has since evolved beyond creating inspiring content and has expanded to hosting events and speaking publicly at summits and workshops. One of Collins’ favorite moments so far has been raising $7,000 to take 200 underserved girls to see “The Little Mermaid” on its opening weekend, to “let them know they are enough” and that there’s an “older sister” in their corner.

Of course, as with most new projects, funding for “Perfect Timing” has come entirely out of Collins’ pocket. Thankfully, the funding she earned from being selected as a Prudential Emerging Visionary is going toward upgraded recording equipment, the support of expert producers, and skill-building classes to help her become a better host and public speaker. She’ll even be able to lease an office space that allows for a live audience.

Plus, after meeting with the 24 other Prudential Emerging Visionaries and her Prudential employee coach, who is helping her develop specific action steps to connect with her target audience, Collins has more confidence in a “grander path” for her work.

“I learned that my network could extend to multiple spaces beyond my realm of podcasting and journalism when industry leaders are willing to share their expertise, time, and financial support,” she told Upworthy. “It only takes one person to change, and two people to expand that change.”

Prudential Emerging Visionaries is currently seeking applicants for 2024. Winners may receive up to $15,000 in awards and an all-expenses-paid trip to Prudential’s headquarters with a parent or guardian, as well as ongoing coaching and skills development to grow their projects.

If you or someone you know between the ages of 14 -18 not only displays a bold vision for the future but is taking action to bring that vision to life, click here to learn more. Applications are due by Nov. 2, 2023.

In an age where technology and fashion intertwine, our pets deserve accessories that echo the times. Many pet owners grapple with the need for innovative solutions that also embrace sustainability. Enter Nina Woof, seamlessly marrying the appeal of modern design with a groundbreaking addition: the Cupertino Dog Collar, compatible with Apple AirTag.

European Aesthetic Brilliance

The Cupertino Dog Collar is not just an accessory; it's a statement. Reflecting the pinnacle of European design aesthetics, this collar embodies an elegant and stylish vibe that few can match. Every glance reveals a piece that is the epitome of sophistication.

But beauty isn't its only strength. Behind this aesthetic brilliance lies meticulous craftsmanship. The soft touch of vegan leather, paired with the strength of reinforced hardware, all handcrafted to perfection, emphasizes Nina Woof’s dedication to unmatched quality.

Safety in Smart Fashion

The modern pet owner seeks more than just aesthetic appeal, and Nina Woof acknowledges that with the Cupertino Dog Collar. Seamlessly integrating with Apple's AirTag, it represents a blend of style and innovative technology.

Beyond aesthetics, it’s about ensuring safety. This collar doesn't just make a fashion statement, it provides an assurance. As cities grow and become more complex, knowing your pet's location offers a peace of mind that is truly priceless.

Sustainability at Heart

Beyond its stunning surface, the Cupertino Dog Collar showcases a commitment to our planet. The use of vegan leather is a testament to Nina Woof's dedication to a world without animal cruelty, proving fashion can be kind.

But the commitment doesn't stop at being cruelty-free. Delving deeper into the collar's fabric reveals a strong environmental conscience. By incorporating recycled materials in its design, Nina Woof stands as a beacon of sustainable luxury in the world of pet accessories.

Commitment Beyond Craftsmanship

Nina Woof is more than just its premium products; it’s an embodiment of a promise to its patrons. From purchase to post-purchase, Nina Woof ensures a seamless experience with utmost transparency.

Understanding that sometimes choices need revisiting, Nina Woof offers a straightforward return process. Products can be sent back within ten days of the purchase date, provided they're in new and unused condition. After a quick inspection, expect your refund to be processed promptly, ensuring customer satisfaction remains paramount, even post-purchase.



Elevate your pet's style while ensuring their safety and supporting a sustainable future. The Cupertino Dog Collar is more than just an accessory—it's a fusion of European elegance, innovative tracking, and eco-conscious craftsmanship. Don't let your furry friend miss out on this blend of fashion and function. Visit Nina Woof today and invest in a collar that truly makes a difference!

Pets

Family brings home the wrong dog from daycare until their cats saved the day

A quick trip to the vet confirmed the cats' and family's suspicions.

Family accidentally brings wrong dog home but their cats knew

It's not a secret that nearly all golden retrievers are identical. Honestly, magic has to be involved for owners to know which one belongs to them when more than one golden retriever is around. Seriously, how do they all seem have the same face? It's like someone fell asleep on the copy machine when they were being created.

Outside of collars, harnesses and bandanas, immediately identifying the dog that belongs to you has to be a secret skill because at first glance, their personalities are also super similar. That's why it's not surprising when one family dropped off their sweet golden pooch at daycare and to be groomed, they didn't notice the daycare sent out the wrong dog.

See, not even their human parents can tell them apart because when the swapped dog got home, nothing seemed odd to the owners at first. She was freshly groomed so any small differences were quickly brushed off. But this accidental doppelgänger wasn't fooling her feline siblings.

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Photo via Canva, @WhattheADHD/Twitter

The 'bionic reading' font is designed to help keep you focused and read faster.

Reading is a fundamental tool of learning for most people, which is why it's one of the first things kids learn in school and why nations set literacy goals.

But even those of us who are able to read fluently might sometimes struggle with the act of reading itself. Perhaps we don't read as quickly as we wish we could or maybe our minds wander as our eyes move across the words. Sometimes we get to the end of a paragraph and realize we didn't retain anything we just read.

People with focus or attention issues can struggle with reading, despite having no actual reading disabilities. It can be extremely frustrating to want to read something and have no issues with understanding the material, yet be unable to keep your mind engaged with the text long enough to get "into" what you're reading.

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Only child asks her friends what it's like to grow up with siblings.

Ahhh, siblings. Sometimes they're your best friends and other times your living room turns into an MMA octagon over the remote control. If you grew up with brothers and sisters, it's hard to imagine what it would be like to be an only child. (That's not to say you didn't dream about it when your sister stole your favorite shirt for the 30th time.)

But not everyone has siblings, so it can be equally as hard for someone who grew up as an only child to picture what it would be like to have them. Only children also likely had moments where they dreamt of having a little brother or sister, not realizing the literal torment siblings can inflict on each other.

TikTok creator Lonnie IIV recently posted a video of himself with two other friends seemingly out to lunch, when the girl in the group asked what it was like to grow up with siblings. In less than a minute she realized she lucked out being an only child because her two guy friends gave her a crash course in sibling behavior.

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Photo: courtesy BioCarbon Engineering/WikiCommons

Technology is the single greatest contributor to climate change but it may also soon be used to offset the damage we've done to our planet since the Industrial Age began.

In September 2018, a project in Myanmar used drones to fire "seed missiles" into remote areas of the country where trees were not growing. Less than a year later, thousands of those seed missiles have sprouted into 20-inch mangrove saplings that could literally be a case study in how technology can be used to innovate our way out of the climate change crisis.

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