I love football. I love the competition, the rivalries, the big hits, and the breakout plays. I love sitting on my couch screaming at the TV, and I love sitting in the nosebleed section at the stadium screaming at referees for ‘bad calls’ they made while my (obvious) eagle eyes ‘clearly’ saw the mistakes they made from thousands of feet away.
I have been a football fanatic most of my life (at least as far back as age 9 or 10). My father loves football and taught me to love and respect the game as a small child. He taught me that loyalty to a team was as important as any other aspect. I have one college favorite. I am diehard. When they win, I feel like part of the ‘winning team’ and am the first to yell “WE won.” When they lose, the defeat feels as crushing to this fan as it is probably does to those boys who just left the field with their heads down and their hopes dashed.
The National Football League has a different feel for me. I have my favorite teams. I watch with intensity and follow my favorite players throughout their careers. One of the primary differences between college and professional football, for me personally, is my undying dedication to the same college team yet the ability to cheer for favorite players (many of them former stars at my favorite NCAA school) regardless of the team they are on in the NFL. I say I have a ‘favorite’ NFL team, and I am thrilled when they win and shaken when they lose. But my ‘other’ winning teams of the day and the stats that ‘so- and-so’ racked up can cheer me up quickly. The one-man-shows in the NFL (think Terrell Owens and Ocho Cinco) are entertainment in of themselves and will keep me tuned in watching teams I would otherwise completely ignore. The NFL is ‘fun’ for me. I cheer for my favorite teams and players. I appreciate the competition, watch for the plays of the day, and follow my favorite players’ stats.
But… college football. The name “College GameDay” is enough to get me excited. My team colors are war paint. Quarterback stats and “did you SEE that run?” conversations get me fired up in ways that would likely stun people who know me only on a professional level. I am diehard. Loving my favorite team is nearly rivaled by jeering the teams I loathe… oh, and there ARE teams I loathe! The names of certain college coaches get my blood boiling. I have had my share of ‘trash talk’ with friends and family who cheer for my team’s rivals. My husband and I are fans of separate teams, arguably two of the biggest rivals in college football history. The day those schools meet each year often ends with bruised egos and little conversation at the end of the game.
College football is about adrenaline, competition, talent, hard work, and fan loyalty. The better team doesn’t necessarily win, especially when they face a rival as the away team, drowned out by the deafening sound of 50,000 or more screaming fans. The intimidation alone can destroy the confidence of a more talented, higher-ranked team. College football players have a love for the game of football that I fear is quickly lost in the ‘business’ dealings of professional football. They live and breathe hope and dreams of playing in the NFL. They are driven by fans, love of football, pure talent, and a desperate need to prove they are worthy of their starting position and a chance at the NFL draft.
If it is football season, in the pros or in college, you will find me ‘talking football’ on a daily basis. If we sat down and discussed the games of the day, you would likely figure out quickly which teams are my favorites and which teams I respect the most. Football, as I have heard my entire life, is a religion. And I proudly ‘worship’ at the gridiron all season long.