How a Year in the South Made Me Love Football

Before I moved down to Georgia in 2016 for grad school, I couldn’t give a single care about football, or really any sports in particular.

I knew a lot of people, including a lot of men in my life, were obsessed with it. Every fall, it seemed like all the sports lovers lost their minds, cheering on their college team. And then, after it was quiet for a bit, there would be the Super Bowl Party. I generally never cared who was playing, if I even knew the teams. I didn’t understand football, or how people could get so hyped about it.

Until that is, I got a big old taste of southern football culture.

Until the fall of 2016, I had never been to a tailgate, I kid you not. They sounded fun and all, with passing a ball around and cooking up some hotdogs and burgers…but I just never really had the opportunity to go to one. But that fall, I quickly realized that if you go to UGA and you want to have any social life at all in the fall, you go to tailgates, games, and watch parties. It’s just what you do.

It turns out that there is such a vibrant energy at a tailgate. Everybody together eating good food, watching the TV closely and cheering on your team.

And that’s really what it’s about at the heart of it: your team. It may be your hometown team or your alma mater, or maybe even a random team that you chose to adopt, but either way, you cheer on your team and care way too much about whether they win or lose.

My team will always be the Georgia Dawgs. I don’t care that I work for another SEC school; I love my workplace but sports-wise, I’ll always be rooting for the Dawgs. I can’t help it, it’s my school and a little piece of my heart will always call Athens, GA my second home.

Somehow, a girl who used to have a passionate disinterest in football, hosted 3 tailgates last fall. This fall, I went to football viewing parties, nearly cried when we lost the Championship to freakin ‘Bama, and spent way too much time looking over the new recruits for next fall. The Dawgs are losing a lot of great seniors, but the talent next year is going to be so fierce, I wouldn’t be surprised if we went to the ‘Ship Round 2.

The South is great for so many reasons, too many to list here. But what I’ll remember the most is the community I found there, and the magical energy a town has when it all cheers on the same team. It all goes to show that when you open yourself up to new experiences, you might find out things about yourself you didn’t know existed.

Like the fact that maybe you do care about football…just a bit.

P.S. We’re coming for ya next year, ‘Bama.

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