This is finally the week! It’s the week I spent the previous 229 days anticipating…It’s the start of COLLEGE FOOTBALL SEASON! I seriously cannot contain my excitement. My favorite college football teams are THE Ohio State Buckeyes and the University of South Carolina Gamecocks. Basically, I’m a Buckeye by blood (both of my parents are from Ohio) and I’m a Gamecock by marriage (which is great because I really didn’t want to get stuck being a UGA fan just because I’m from Georgia). For almost two weeks now, I have had every Buckeye and Gamecock game scheduled in both my planner and the calendar on my computer.
I grew up with a twin brother and an older brother who was just two years and two days old when we were born. No sisters. Just two brothers both very close to my same age. So yeah, I’d say I was pretty much destined to love sports more than the average girl. I actually quit ballet and gymnastics as a child so I could play soccer like my brothers. In general, I like just about every sport (except not really the NBA…don’t judge), but I don’t just like college football. I LOVE college football (and NHL, but I’ll save that for another post).
I know some people prefer professional football over college football, but that really doesn’t make sense to me. Sure, some might argue the playoff system makes a little more sense in professional football, but I just don’t feel like loyalty is the same. That’s where the real difference is.
Most people go to one college, and that’s where your loyalty lies. You went to school there, and the players played for that one team. Yeah, some people don’t end up going to college, some people transfer during college, and some go to graduate school somewhere else and therefore feel loyalty to more than one place. I went to a very small school that couldn’t possibly be competitive in Division I NCAA football. In those instances, people still choose a school to which their loyalty belongs, as I did. I grew up a Buckeye because it was in the family, so going to a small school didn’t change anything for me. I have since also become a Gamecock (and Craig has become a Buckeye) because that is what’s in our McKinney family.
My point is, people generally have one school (or perhaps two) to which they feel most loyal. That loyalty was what makes college football so great. It makes what would otherwise be just a football game become something with infinitely more meaning. It gives you a bond with people you will likely never know. It becomes us against them. I may even go as far to say that some games (especially Rivalry Week…just another reason Thanksgiving break is so great) are built up to this mindset of good versus evil. Of course your team is always the “good” team, and the rival team is always the “evil” team. That sounds extreme, and I hope there aren’t a ton of people out there that truly believe they are somehow superior to the rival team or that the rival team is in fact evil. However, the tension in the room during a tied rivalry game is great evidence to the weight and importance a single game can have.
Although I personally love football, anyway, I think that it is this type of loyalty for the school itself that draws people into the football scene who otherwise couldn’t care less about this sport or any other. If you went to college or grew up near a college or your parents went to college, or your best friend or significant other has a team that he or she really cares about, you now have something to root for…a team to care about. It doesn’t matter if you know what a two-point conversion is or how many downs a team gets. What matters is that you can read the numbers at the top of the screen to tell you which team is in the lead. What matters is that you know which team you want to win…you know where your loyalty lies, and that makes this game important to you.
Where is the loyalty with the NFL? It’s almost non-existent. This is because after college (and any additional schooling to follow), people move. Job transfers happen all the time. How can people, being adults or children, possibly feel such loyalty to NFL team when they are frequently moving? Perhaps the biggest issue is that even if you want to be loyal to a single NFL team, it is very difficult to be loyal to the players. Players are traded all the time. It’s difficult to even get very excited about a new, great player joining an NFL team because there is no telling how long he will be there. It’s hard to give the same loyalty to a team when its players are ever-changing.
I’m not trying to argue that NFL is boring. After all, how could any sport really be boring when you have the option of creating your own fantasy team? I’m just saying that while an NFL game can certainly entertain me, it is NCAA football that truly grabs me and pulls me in. I become invested, and there’s no turning back. Sigh. I know this post may sound a little over the top, but cut me some slack. It’s been months since I’ve felt the excitement that comes with this season.
OH, and in case anyone is curious, I do offer Craig frequent reminders throughout football season of how incredibly lucky he is to have married someone who loves spending our Saturdays watching football together. Can’t have him taking that for granted, no siree! 😉