Fall is a beautiful time of year. The leaves are falling. Apples are being pressed. Hot coffee is no longer sweat-inducing. Chilly breezes rustle through the trees. Then there is the yelling. There is so much yelling. Why? Football. College football.
I have not always cared about football. I’m not what you call a “sports fan.” It’s a fairly recent phenomenon. I followed my team in college like any good, school-spirited student. But we were terrible. Not just terrible-for-the-South-terrible. Legitimately bad at football.
That’s all changed now. As I’m writing this, the Baylor Bears are number 5 in the country and the game is actually being broadcast on network television!
I have also changed. Now I’ve supposedly grown up and have moved to an area of the country that wonders if football is a weird word for hockey. The New York Times recently published an article on college football team affiliation across the U.S. and Maine doesn’t even have enough of an allegiance to register.
The move and the change of fate for my team have turned me into a college football fan. I plunge myself into the violent simulation of war, cheered on by thousands with coordinated outfits and painted faces. I get caught up in the drama. My heart palpitates during a long ball. Adrenaline and testosterone rush through my system at every touchdown. I scream and gesticulate like every trope you’ve ever seen of fat men in front of the tv and frat boys running around the stadium.
And the thing is, I don’t just keep track of “my boys.” I follow NCAA football. I watch standings. I check to see who won the OU/Texas game (it was OU). Who am I kidding? I watched the OU/Texas game. I remind my family that the Missouri Tigers are traitors for leaving the Big XII. I make sure everyone knows the Aggies are horrible people.
I’ve figured it out though. I know where the sudden enthusiasm comes from. College football ties me to my roots. There are professional football fans everywhere, but college football? You need to head south of the Mason-Dixon to get to places where single games exceed the gross national products of small countries. You can make fun of people for being “t-shirt fans.” You know what it means to be a “t-shirt fan” and take offense enough to recite your team pedigree back three generations if needed. I get to talk smack when friends and family members try to pretend that their teams are better than mine. It brings us all closer together, makes us into our own team. We just need t-shirts.