Barrie Atkin might Change Your Mind
Just like everyone in New England, Barrie Atkin was surprised when Patriots head coach Bill Belichick opted to continue starting Tom Brady at quarterback when Drew Bledsoe was available to return after his injury.
“Being somewhat ignorant of football at that time, I assumed that the $100 million franchise quarterback Drew Bledsoe would be the quarterback,” Atkin said. “But no, it was Tom Brady.”
Fast forward 21 years, and Atkin is no longer the “ignorant” fan she once was. So much so that she went on to write a book titled “Hate Football? Fun Facts to Help You Become Part of the Crowd.” She credits Brady and the Patriots with drawing her closer to the game.
“When Drew Bledsoe was replaced, I realized that coach Belichick recognized something very special about Tom Brady,” Atkin said. “I came to understand that Tom had chemistry, the ability to get the ball out of the pocket fast, and fine professional skills. But more than anything, his social skills made him a natural leader. And that drew me to football.”
However, Atkin’s reason for writing the book is not just restricted to her love of football and Brady.
“Many of the guys are always bantering back and forth among themselves at work,” Atkin said. “And they just want to have their banter. Whether they’re right or not, they may not know what they’re saying is inaccurate. But they presume that women might not know anything about the sport.”
She described her book as a guide for people, especially women, who feel left out of conversations at work or other social settings due to their lack of knowledge about the game.
“There are a lot of people who either don’t know anything about football but want to hang out with people who do, or when they are together, don’t want to feel left out of conversations,” Atkin said. “And this is not an ultimate guide to football, but at least it’s a starting point.”
Atkin followed a simple plan to collect information about the sport to use as ideas for her book.
“I started with an outline,” Atkin said. “And then I would see and pull out clips from the newspaper. I collected and read books for several years about football. I started talking with women’s groups back around 2015 about football. And so, I had some content ideas.”
While Atkin’s interest in football was forged much later, she has always been involved with various sports organizations like the Women’s Tennis Association and Ladies Professional Golf Association as a strategic planner. She also played ice hockey in college.
“I was terrible at ice hockey, but I’ve been involved with women’s sports for a long time,” Atkin said. “I was at one point on the advisory board for the Women’s Sports Foundation, back in the 1980s. I got to meet people who were involved in setting up a women’s professional softball league. And I tried to help them with a business plan.”
Despite writing “Hate Football?” and having other books in the pipeline, she doesn’t particularly like writing.
“I really don’t enjoy writing,” Atkin said. “But I have probably written about 70 business plans for clients. So I’m very good at writing very linearly and making a case. About five or six years ago, I thought of a book I wanted to write way before the football book. It was called ‘Hate Fundraising?’ But I kept procrastinating. And so I ended up doing ‘Hate Football?’ because I just got inspired and wrote it because it was so fun and easy to write as I was watching games.”
Atkin is not done writing about football yet. She is working on an expanded version of “Hate Football?” that will come out in October.
“I’m also just finishing a journal, which is for people who like football and like keeping scores,” Atkin said. “You know how in baseball and soccer people keep score and keep track of every game? I haven’t found a lot of things for people who love football and keep information about every game. So I created a journal, where after each game they could put down who the quarterback was, what the final scores were, and what the key points and takeaways were.”
Atkin currently lives with her wife, Helen, and two dogs in Swampscott. Funnily enough, her wife didn’t like football when they met.
“We got married during COVID,” Atkin said. “We were introduced to each other nine years ago and on our first date, she actually joined me in watching a football game.”
It seems like Atkin managed to change Helen’s mind about the sport.