Monday, September 03, 2007

It Has Started...

I'm not the tomboy I used to be. And even then, I played most neighborhood sports in my plastic high heels. But the one thing I have yet managed to release from my childhood is college football.

I live south of the good ole M-D line and here, college football rules the fall. And this weekend marks the beginning of the fanatical season.

We used to have season tickets. Back when the football season actually felt like football weather because we had to take sweaters to games. But anymore it's sweltering. Which made letting our season tickets go not so bad. My dear hubby gets press passes and watches the game from the sidelines... A little too close to the action for my blood. And he's willing to give up those passes a couple of games each season so I can go and we can sit together.

But there's more to games here than three and a half hours of watching guys butt heads. College football is a culture. The week before a game, people with RVs more expensive than our house begin arriving at specially designated parking areas. They set up their 56 inch satellite TVs which show pregame shows from the side of the RV while crowds of tailgaters gather near and their TEC Bar-B-Ques in preparation for gameday.

If a game begins at 7PM, tailgating will start as early as 9 or 10AM. But the average fan starts just after noon. Yes, that's almost 7 hours before the game even starts. And we're talking HUGE spreads. You'd think people were storing up food for a famine.

Not to mention the cost of tailgating spots. Some parking spaces sell for as much as $20,000 a season. And then there are condos and special tailgating units selling anywhere from $250,000-$500,000. You at least get ownership of the units, but that's still pretty expensive for a couple of hours enjoyment each weekend. But hey, who am I to complain about the way other people spend their money?

This all occurred to me because during the pregame radio show this past weekend a lady called in to the show. She'd recently moved here from California and she was complaining. She said that when August rolled around everyone here acted as though nothing else existed other than college football. The hosts played with her for a bit, but it made me realize it isn't like this everywhere else.

College football does rule here. Team spirit is a very lively thing. But it's more than that. It's a cultural event, a social gathering. Our first two seasons with season tickets we sat next to the same couples every game. You eventually come to know the people you sit or park next to. You come to know their families, and before long, you're connecting all of the people you both know and you realize this really isn't that big of a place after all. And for a couple of hours, everyone comes together to cheer on their team.

The energy that camaraderie generates is unequalled anywhere else I've been. And so each year I look forward to the count down to gameday and I enjoy the electricity which enters the air as it comes near. It also helps that I spend the Saturday's my hubby is away watching the game muted on TV and writing.

How about where you live? Does college football rule? NFL? NHL? NBA? college basketball? Anything?



Tess Harrison said...

I never got into college football, but I love ice hockey. I can get totally wrapped up in a good game.

Shelli Stevens said...

I'm not into college sports at all. I've always wondered why it was like that in some towns. Where college or even football teams just become the center of the universe during the season.

I am about a small fan of pro baseball and football in my town, though. And I love to dress my daughter in little uniforms/jerseys during the game :)

Karen Erickson said...

Yes college football rules the city I live closest too. Fresno State Bulldogs - all fans wear red to the games. I went to Target this past Saturday night and there was a sea of red shirt wearers - and they weren't Target employees. I knew then a Bulldog game was happening that night.

And yay! They won! :)

Dara Edmondson said...

Frankly, I wish I enjoyed football because living in FLA, college ball totally dominates. And I despise it, as I do all sports. I went to a tailgate party while at UF and cheered when the others did, although I had no idea why!

April said...

Tess, I love ice hockey too! We have an ECL team here and I love going to the games!

Shelli, I love seeing little kids dressed up in team attire!

Karen, glad your team won! Ours did too!

Dara, LOL! It took me a while to learn about football. But there was no avoiding it here :o)

Suzie said...

living in FL everything stops for football especially Friday nite for high school ball. we now have a new university, FGCU that will soon have a div. I football team. I can't wait! but for me triathlons still rule...

mary beth said...

High school football. Friday Night Lights is very, very real.

MaryF said...

The Spurs DEFINITELY rule here. But what a cool concept for a story, the football culture. I never knew!