So college football starts tomorrow, Thursday August 30th and I am not exaggerating when I say that it will be the best day of my life so far. Alright, you got me, I am exaggerating a little bit, but what’s the Internet without outrageous hyperbole? That’s what I thought. But come on! It’s the beginning of fall. It’s the beginning of cold weather, changing leaves, and crisp outdoor adventures.
One of the best things about living in a state without any Big 4 teams (professional baseball, basketball, football, hockey teams) was that the local college and university teams stepped up to fill that gap. Ask anyone from those cities and towns with a great college team and nothing professional and they’ll say that it’s the heart and enthusiasm that the “amateurs” show over the professionals. There’s gumption.
College football season means having something to do every Saturday. Or, it means having something excellent to put on for background distraction while doing routine and mindless work. It means some ridiculous undergraduate stunts performed (thankfully and appropriately) by undergraduate students. It means tailgating and absolutely excellent grilling/barbeque. In the south, it means wearing little sundresses in loud school colors. It means swelling school spirit. College football provides the energy to propel the entire college community from summer into fall.
I know college sports are not for everyone. Heck, not everyone likes sports, which, you know, I find absolutely baffling but I am betting that some of my preferences are baffling to other people, too. And there are many worthwhile and useful critiques of the college sports culture, from appropriate compensation of the players to safety concerns to the balance between athletics and academics.
But there’s this wonderful invigorating buzz in the air when the teams start taking to the field. I attended a university that didn’t have any Division 1 sports and while we had many exciting events throughout the fall to get us to become a cohesive unit, it was nothing like the all-encompassing fervor of sports. Between the outdoor venues, the tailgating, and the celebrating, even people who weren’t into sports were able to find something about the experience to enjoy.
I’m not one for tradition, pretty much at all, but I buy in to the whole college football experience. From kick-off to post-game analysis with my favorite radio hosts to the dissection of the game with coworkers the next day to dressing up in ridiculous tshirts, I love it all. It’s ridiculous but when I see game day fever sweeping the campus and surrounding community, I see people with all levels of connection to the university, from students to professors to staff to neighbors, getting into it. It’s an unexpectedly egalitarian experience. And honestly, cheesy as it is, cheering for a tangible representation of the university or college that you are a part of does solidify that connection.
I hope you get a chance to enjoy a game this weekend. If football isn’t for you, then I hope you get a chance to enjoy the enthusiasm of the fans at the university and in the community. It’ll be fall soon and in the academic realm that means things are starting back up again – get stoked and in the spirit.