A word about college football as social education

The moment the goalpost came down after Georgia Tech defeated No. 4 Virginia Tech in 2009.

Can I have an opinion here for a second?

If you go to a school where football is traditionally an important thing, and you don’t make any kind of attempt to understand it, go to a game, or enjoy it, you are completely and totally shortchanging yourself of an important part of your social education. Why? Because you never know when knowing just a little bit about football or your team could be just the little bit of small talk you need to get your foot in the door with someone who could offer you an opportunity or friendship of a lifetime.

If you honestly just can’t get into it, fine. But at least give it a shot. And if you really don’t like it, don’t act like a smug, superior asshole about going to a “football school” and not giving a damn about the football team. It seriously doesn’t make you any better than anyone else. In fact, it’s just another display of pride of ignorance, and if you consider yourself at all to be an intelligent person, you should abhor that above all else.

I’ll admit, I really could have not given even half a damn about football when I started school at Georgia Tech. And in case you didn’t know, Georgia Tech is, among many other things, a “football school.” They’ve won national championships. They have the oldest football field in the NCAA. They hold the record for the most lopsided football victory ever. And that’s just scratching the surface. I skipped the home opener my freshman year, and to this day, I regret it. Georgia Tech upset Auburn 17-3, and the student section brought down the north endzone goalpost. I watched the game on TV from a friend’s dorm room. That Monday, I picked up my student ticket vouchers for the rest of the season. With the exception of the home games played on Labor Day weekend (Dragon Con, you know), I did not miss a single home game while I was a student after that. I did, finally, see the north endzone goalpost come down again in person when GT upset No. 4 Virginia Tech in 2009. I have so many wonderful memories from that game, and others, that I will never forget.

Why the change? At the time, it was mostly because everyone in my dorm was so amped up over the win, and I didn’t want to miss out on that kind of excitement. Later, I realized how much of a cultural touchstone football could be, and how talking about the most recent games really did open doors for me socially and professionally. I learned the game; I learned how the BCS worked; I developed an opinion on how the BCS didn’t actually work…

In short, what I’m trying to say here is, don’t just make the assumption that you want nothing to do with football when you’re in college (or even when you’re in high school if it’s a strong part of your school’s heritage). At some point, without fail, someone will, upon learning where you went to school, ask you about your opinion about how the football team is doing. If you honestly and truly do not enjoy the game, then fine. You can tell them, “I don’t really like football.” Nothing is for everyone. And even if you’ve given it an honest shot and still don’t like it, remember that doesn’t make you any better (or worse) than the people who do. But don’t be that person who thinks or acts like they’re too good to even attempt to understand it or enjoy it. Because the right answer is never, “I don’t care about football.”

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