What a break in the weather the middle of the week was or am I the only one who enjoyed it?
Think about how appropriate it was to get a three or four day break from the heat this time of year as August rolls around. The NFL kicked off training camps all over the country and the college and local high schoolers will be doing the same before long too.
I know I may be jumping the gun just a tad with football, but I have to say with the cooler temperatures I got a glimpse of early fall in the South and couldn’t help but think about it.
Yes, I rolled out of bed Tuesday morning and could smell a soft, gentle October Saturday afternoon and anticipated a 1:00 kickoff. I suppose in the scheme of things it’s one of the things, along with sweet tea and having to bless everyone’s hearts, that makes us uniquely Southern. Sure I could go on and on with the Southernisms, as if it hasn’t been done to death, but football, well that’s a different story altogether.
Go to places like California and the Midwest and they claim football is their deal, and they do play good football, but the passion for the game isn’t the same. In the non-Southern areas the populations were always large enough to sustain professional franchises dating back to their earliest incarnations and as a result the fans gravitated toward the NFL and its forerunners.
While here, below the Mason-Dixon Line, all we had were a bunch of kids, high school to college ages, to idolize and follow, leading to some of the greatest rivalries and stories in sports history.
There isn’t another region that enjoys or places so much stock in amateur football as we do, and for almost all of us, there is that rivalry game we all look forward to, almost willing to go winless for the season if we could just have that one. We remember names like Charlie “Choo-Choo” Justice, King Dixon and Buck Belue (who I am convinced played seven years at UGA).
Family reunions, weddings, funerals, paychecks, vacations, sick days, dates, and lives are subject to change when kickoff is official.
Ask me about some of my most memorable moments and many of them will center around Clemson football … I know, I just lost some of you who are USC fans, but we can’t all be perfect … See? Rivalry even on my job.
The unbelievable series between the Tigers and Georgia in the 1980’s, almost always settled by three points or less. Billy Lott throwing the ball out of the back of the end zone as Clemson was trying to come away with a win in Columbia. Clemson’s 1989 trip to Tallahassee and subsequent thrashing of the Seminoles. Rod Gardener’s “catch” or “shove” depending on your affiliation. And, in all fairness, I could throw in tons of others having to do with other schools, but it’s almost time to get out the face paint, so no free press.
By the time the Atlanta Falcons, and eventually the Carolina Panthers, set up shop, college and high school football were wholly ingrained in a Southerner’s genetic material, and although we have done a fine job of adopting and supporting both franchises, it just isn’t the same. We prefer to watch someone fight for the honor of their school or their fans than a paycheck. I wonder what that says about us.
I don’t know about the rest of the country or even those of you reading this, but as for me I don’t want to surrender summer just yet, I have far too much I want to finish before then, I just have lost self-control. I am so ready to tee it up and stand as a crowd, whether it’s 200 people on Friday night or 85,000 on Saturday afternoon, and shout until I can’t speak the next day.
Fry some chicken, pour me a tea, tell me a lie sitting on the tailgate and let the pigskin fly … just let me get one good beach visit in and I’ll be ready to roll.