Finally. College football is here, and we are the college football fans. We’ve waited months for this, passing the time with talking about the National Championship game, reading who has committed where, catching a rerun of a game from 2010, and reading articles about spring practice, depth charts, and way too early polls. But now, we are just days away from kick-off.
Alas, football hath arriveth!
Why We Love the Gridiron
Over the past two weeks, I have been feverishly checking my calendar to make travel plans for away games while politely declining any non-football related Saturday plans (including baby showers, weddings, and birthday parties) from here to mid-January. As I have been counting down the hours until this Saturday and going over in my mind the list of tasks that have to be completed so I can sit in front of my big screen tv uninterrupted, I started wondering exactly what it is that I was so eager about. I wasn’t going to the game nor was there any kick-off party to attend. Hell, my team wasn’t even playing this weekend, nor was I even sure that the team I had bet on would win. However, every time I thought about the game, the hair on my arms stood up and my heart began to pound. Here’s why.
Obviously, we know that football is an American sport, but what it actually encompasses is the foundation of the American dream. Hard work, teamwork, sacrifice, perseverance, respect, pride, glory. ‘Merica. Yes, the NFL may have more viewers, but college football engulfs more passion, more heart, more pride. There is a sense of belonging, as fans use possessive pronouns when referring to their favorite college football program such as “my team” and “our school”. The pride of a true fan is second to none; we believe in our team; we support our team through the 11-1 seasons as well as the 1-11 seasons. Nothing can shake our faith.
College Football Fans
Being raised in the South, it’s always been a joke that football is a religion. However, it is no laughing matter down here. We do take our football seriously. Football traditions are rich, from preparing on Friday to recovering on Sunday. We buy clothes to bear our school pride, the team colors are our favorite colors, and we wouldn’t be caught dead in rival team colors even in the off-season. The school mascot becomes our personal spirit animal. The team schedule is our seasonal calendar; we plan for games and around games. We know the uniform details better than the paint colors on the walls of our own homes.
Tailgating is a well-planned event, from mega grills and cold beer to team logo tents and corn hole. We wait in line at the players’ entrance to get a glimpse of the coaches and players that we have practically worshipped into celebrities. We go through the pregame events like religious rituals. We know every player’s name, every note the band plays, every word to the fight song, every cheer and chant, every voice heard over the PA system. We sit on bleachers or plastic seats in the unbearable heat or sub-zero temperatures, next to strangers who become our best friends for the subsequent hours of the game as we all slowly lose our hearing from the deafening decibels of the stadium crowd.
We gloat for the following 365 days when we win rivalry games, and we lick our wounds and say “there’s always next year” when we come up short. We turn into couch coaches as we yell play calls at the TV screen as well as becoming Heisman voters as the season progresses. We know who’s injured, who’s redshirted, who’s playing their senior season, and who has committed to play for the team over the following years. We become bandwagon fans when our players are drafted to the pros.
Yes, we are college football fans. When they take the field, we take the field. We relish in their victories. We feel the pain of the losses. We pray for their recovery. We know what went wrong on which play. We know what they need to work on for the next game. Their rivals are our rivals. It’s our state against your team. Our city against your city. We are part of the team. There are two times of the year for people like us, football season and waiting for football season.
See you on Saturday.
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