Last year, I wrote a piece about college football and the TV show "Friday Night Lights." In it, I wrote that I would go to a UTC football game to see what all of the hoopla was about. I did. And it was fun. I went with friends, and we took our kids. And I’m an alumnus, so I felt a connection there. It was a step forward in my appreciation for college football.
But since then, I haven’t done anything more to develop my appreciation for college football. And because the season is ending and an onslaught of bowl games are coming up, I thought writing about it again might help me prepare for what’s sure to be an exciting time for a lot of fans.
While researching the topic, I heard about Auburn’s Iron Bowl victory over the Crimson Tide and Chris Brown’s movie-worthy score to win the game. I watched the video of it online, and I have to say, even as a nonfan, I thought it was amazing. Someday, I truly believe there will be a movie about it.
And then, I read the story about an Alabama fan who murdered another Alabama fan while watching the Iron Bowl, because apparently, she wasn’t upset enough over the team’s loss. And then I thought that, yes, most definitely, someone will make a movie about this game someday.
I started thinking about Comic-Con, because really, college football fans are not unlike comic, fantasy and sci-fi geeks. Both dress up in costumes and eagerly stand in line to go to an event that brings out passionate feelings of joy, rivalry and anger in them.
I’m thinking about this, this, this and this. I’m thinking about Tennessee Vols fans versus Georgia fans and Alabama fans and Auburn fans. I’m thinking of "Star Trek" versus "Star Wars" fans and DC versus Marvel fans.
I get it now. I finally get it. College football fans are geeks, too.
I can be pretty passionate when it comes to comic books; just read what I wrote about the "Man of Steel" movie. I can get pretty grumpy if a comic book-movie adaptation doesn’t get things right, like the character’s origin or the costume details. It’s pretty geeky, I know. And as I’m writing this, I am cringing. But to me, these things are my college football. And the movie adaptations are my football games. And Comic-Con is my bowl game.
I recently asked my Facebook friends why people like college football so much. Here’s what some of them said:
"There is absolutely nothing like going to a college football game. The excitement in the air is almost tangible. For me, it’s just a fun game to watch. If my team wins, that’s great. And if they lose, there’s always next year."—Becca Wolfe Tharpe
"Two possible beliefs are tradition and legacy. College football is older than professional football, and to people growing up in the South, the college game was the closest thing you had to 'big-ticket' football that was local. Even if you didn't know anyone who went to the school, you rooted for said team because your parents did and their parents did and so on."—Jonathan M. Cook
"The rivalries are fun and ... and most places you go, there will be someone rooting for your team or someone to talk to about college football. Almost everyone has an opinion on it ... almost."—Susan Shapiro
"I honestly think people are attracted to the camaraderie of it. Everyone wants to be a part of something. I think it feeds a subconscious desire to belong to a 'team.' I personally LOVE it because I love the highs and lows of it. Everyone loves a Rudy story."—Kelly Nichols
"It has the same sense of regionalism and loyalty that used to make baseball so popular. Also, it's so regularly paced that a given game can define a weekend’s entertainment."—Greg Carpenter
"Rabbi Harold Kushner once shared the perspective that sports in general (and I would say college sports in particular) allow for an honest display of emotion. It seems to be the only safe 'place' men can get emotional and hug each other!" – Rabbi Rick Sherwin
"Football simply takes us away from the harsh realities of life."—Josh Dzik
Ask any comic book, sci-fi or fantasy nerd, and their answers will be similar.
I recently read that Alabama coach Nick Saban was possibly offered $100 million to coach the Texas Longhorns. I was blown away that a college football coach could be offered that kind of money for something as trivial as football. How come English and math professors aren’t making that kind of money? But then I started thinking about it. It’s the same principle as Action Comics No. 1 going for $1.522 million. There’s a demand for it; but more than that, there’s a hunger for it, even a need for it. College football brings in a lot of money to colleges. And the reason it does is because it’s something fans are passionate about; it’s escapism the way comic books, movies and Comic-Con are escapism. It’s about pride, connections, rivalry and an escape from real life, if just for a little while. And I can relate to that—and, finally, appreciate it. Because we're all geeks.
To help prepare you and, let’s be honest, myself, for the upcoming bowl games, I’ve provided a link to Grantland’s College Football Viewing Guide: 2013-14 Bowl Fact Sheet.
So why are you geeky about college football? Sound off in the comments below.
Charlie Moss writes about local history and popular culture, including music, movies and comics. You can contact him on Facebook, Twitter or by email. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.
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