And every other college football team out there. Yep, that’s right people, college football season kicked off again last night and America has gone mad for it as usual, well, at least here in the South anyway! Here it’s like a religion and fans get more excited for the college football season than the NFL. It’s just unbelievable!
So, I thought I’d go on a trip down memory lane to celebrate and tell you all about the time we headed to Athens (the one in Georgia, not in Greece people) to take in a University of Georgia football game.
Now, I knew that I’d be blown away when I went to the Sanford Stadium to see my first ever college football game but I definitely didn’t realize just how much! As you all know I’m a Brit and back in the UK university sports teams are watched by a handful of people, all of which are usually students enrolled at the university, but things couldn’t be any further from that here in America and I was about to find out just how far away they actually are.
The realization was starting to set in even before we got to Athens for the University of Georgia Bulldogs game against the Missouri Tigers. Cars were passing us on the highway covered in flags and bumper stickers with the Bulldogs logo on – everyone was heading in the same direction – to cheer on their ‘Dawgs!’ As soon as we parked up I spotted the infamous tailgaters – hundreds were hanging out behind their cars with beers and football snacks – some even had their RV’s parked up and the BBQ burning away! To me it was just like what I’d seen on the big screen in films.
As we walked towards the Sanford Stadium the only thing you could see was a sea of red as thousands and thousands of people made their way to the game –you could tell some of them made the same journey for every home game without a doubt, and what amazed me the most is that the majority of them weren’t even students. Families have season tickets and go week upon week and support them religiously, just like an NFL football team, that’s something you would never see back in the UK. I remember a trip to see my university rugby team play a rival university an hour away, about 5 buses left the university and the stands were mostly empty, it couldn’t be further away on the scale from the sheer volume of fans at college football games here in the states.
I don’t think anything could have prepared me for the moment we walked into the stadium and all we could see all around us was red – just unbelievable:
There were more people in this stadium than at a Premier League soccer game in the UK and that’s our biggest sport. The stadium is bigger than our national stadium, Wembley, and it was full to bursting. I just couldn’t get my head around the sheer amount of people all cheering on a college football team. I constantly looked around the stadium and shook my head in disbelief, not in a negative way though, I love the fact that everyone is so passionate about it and so behind the team.
The noise and the atmosphere was just incredible. The stadium was alive and when everyone cheered together before a kick off, it was so loud they could probably hear it all the way in Atlanta! Then came the ‘barking’ and ‘GO DAWGS!’
Now I’m not going to lie, despite the German trying on many occasions to explain the rules of American football I had no idea what was happening throughout the game but that definitely didn’t stop me enjoying myself. Just being in the stadium and among the supporters was incredible, never mind when there was a touchdown! (Yes I do know what one is!)
And then came the very, very exciting part of the game for me – the marching band, oh how I love a marching band! These are something we don’t get in the UK and I’ve always wanted to see one, again because of the movies! During the game the Red Coat Band was entertainment enough playing in the stand but when they took to the field at half time I was mesmerized! It’s just amazing how they play their instruments and somehow make their way around a football field in time and in a certain sequence!
Sadly the Dawgs weren’t victorious this time and they lost the game but that didn’t put a dampener on the day at all. The sun was shining, it was a perfect football afternoon and I thoroughly enjoyed my first college football game. However, even after visiting the stadium, taking in the atmosphere and the amount of people around I still can’t get to grips with the amount of support for a college team. Unbelievable, but definitely something to be proud of.
I’m sure all those fans and more will be out in force this weekend, the tailgating parties will be kicking off and thousands upon thousands will be screaming ‘Go Dawgs’ as the Bulldogs kick off their new season. Like I said, it’s like a religion around here, the excitement is already building and will be here to stay throughout the season. I think we’ll be heading to another college game this season, maybe this time we’ll try out Georgia Tech and its yellow jackets – Pa Cook’s already a fan, we bought him a yellow jacket golf club head cover for Christmas! Enjoy the season people!
Are you a football fan? Who do you support?