02 September 2010

The Boys of Fall

This is possibly my favorite time of year, college football season starts this week.

I love college football.

I love everything about it.  The game, the traditions, the sportsmanship, the belonging-to-a-family-feeling just because you're a fan.  All of it.

It doesn't matter if it is small town college football, where everyone goes because that is what you do on the weekend. Or perennial powerhouses that appear on NBC or ESPN no matter what kind of year they are having.  I love the prep work no one thinks about, but is done year after year (like this guy, putting finishing touches on the turf grass).  I love to feel the campus come alive as the cars line up in the parking lots and the tailgates commence.  I love the 20' gameday flags you can see for a mile.

I love that on THIS day, everyone has one goal and they are going to cheer until they are hoarse to get it.

I love the true fans that get these seats and consider themselves almost lottery winners, because they get to come to every game this season.  Or even more, the ones who save up their money to get these seats for one and only one game, but it's the hi-lite of their year!

Those are true college football fans.  They understand the important differences between college and professional sports, unlike some others (yes, Reggie Bush and Urban Meyer, I mean you). 

I love the difference in meaning of college football, depending on the part of the country where you live or go to school.  Several years ago I attended a University of Texas game with some well-known Texans.  They explained that is is not just a social event, it's a society event.  You dress up for it, you make plans to see and be seen.  I was intrigued.

In the Midwest, we have the same level of obsession with our football, but see it as the sport first.  We wear team jerseys and ball caps, and in some places cheese heads and grease paint.  And let's not forget the weather.  Have you seen Happy Valley when JoePa has asked them to do a "white-out" (everyone wears white to support the team) and it's pouring rain?  It's not pretty, but they stay packed into that stadium and cheer anyway.

And it gets colder up north during the second half of the season, we get to wear layers of team sweatshirts, parkas, and a multitude of scarf options.  In fact I've made a new scarf the past few years just to celebrate another great season...kind of like a good luck charm.

I love that college sports have rivalries supported by those not even in college.  Like this:

Also, that people support the events surrounding game day, like the marching band:

As an undergrad, my friends knew not to call me during game time, because they knew the phone would just ring.  I have been very lucky in my many college years to see a variety of football games.  Each one has been special in it's own way.

The USC and Wisconsin teams are tense.  The University of Iowa players give a very positive definition to corn-fed beef!  These boys are big and strong and their fans are proud.  Smaller school teams show their true colors and ability to multi-task as student athletes, because they truly play for love the of the sport, not the 15 minutes of fame.  Notre Dame and ASU love their football and hope for a good bowl game, even when odds that year are not in their favor.

Happy college football season...may your team win them all!


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