Go Georgia Bulldogs!

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.

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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:

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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!’

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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!

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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?

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I’m back…and so is football!

OK, so I’ve been pretty pants at writing blog posts over the last month…sorry I’ll rephrase that, I’ve been USELESS!! There’s no way around it I’ve failed you…miserably! Now once again I blame the many visitors to the Richter Hotel…the latest ones being this lovely pair…

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Yep my big bro and sister-in-law made a return visit to the ATL for a couple of weeks therefore I was a busy tour guide/chauffeur and I neglected this lovely blog. Bad, bad, bad blog mum. But the Richter Hotel is now closed for business for the forseeable future (well we have no guests booked in just yet anyway!!!) so I have more time to pay some much-needed attention to this little beast!! Having visitors does mean I have lots to tell you about though so get ready for some adventures to Zoo Atlanta, the Sweetwater Brewery (of course my brother and the German had to fit this one in!!) the Man V. Food featured eatery that is the legendary Vortex and Amicalola Falls to name but a few!

But first…just like my blog comeback (well not really but hey it’s a tedious link!!!) it would appear this weekend was a very, very exciting one for millions of Americans…the return of the college football season! Oh yes. Now when I say football I’m not talking about that game we have back in the UK where 11 men kick a football around a pitch for 90 minutes oh no, no, no…I’m talking about American football! To me it looks like a very rough rugby game (I’m sure some people are now shouting at their computers and saying ‘no it’s not you stupid girl!!!’) but I’m sure once I actually go to a game I will re-visit and change that statement!

So why am I telling you about this…well it would appear the return of college football (in other words university football!!) is HUGE over here! It’s something the whole of the country seems to look forward to and gets very excited about!! Now I’m not talking city teams like the Atlanta Falcons, nope I’m talking teams from colleges like University of Georgia and Georgia Tech to name the 2 local ones around here! Now every college has its own mascot and believe me people really get behind them! I’m once again amazed by how popular college sports are over here!! (Remember my amazement at the popularity of college basketball when the Final Four came to Atlanta?) It’s just unbelievable how they can fill HUGE stadiums with fans…that would NEVER happen in the UK!

So I was first alerted to college football’s popularity at the gym on Friday…the day the season kicked off. My friend and I went to a spin class (I have to point out here that despite being a (temporary) lady of leisure and sounding like I’m a gym regular I’m really not…this was my first spin class for MONTHS!!) we got settled on our bikes and were chatting away when the instructor came in and, picture this, some of her first words were, at the top of her voice whilst sitting on her spin bike with her hands in the air and eyes closed…’FOOTBALL SEASON IS BACK!!!! YEAAAAAHHHHHH!!!’ It would appear she was very excited about this along with some other members of the class who cheered afterwards! I just smiled and thought ‘Is it really that big/exciting?!’ I now know that yes it is!

Now the football theme didn’t end there! Every time a new song came on the instructor would point at someone in the class and ask for their mascot. This worried me…obviously going to university in Cardiff means I don’t have a mascot, I was now living in fear that she would ask me! Eeeek. So the class went on and we supported the Badgers, the Meercats and the Eagles to name just a few! Then my worst fear happened…she pointed towards me and my friend and said ‘Girls what’s your mascot?’ Oh Lord. What was I going to say? I looked at her and tried to shout over the loud music ‘I went to school in England, I’m English. I don’t have a mascot!’ There was a pause and she looked at me as if to say ‘Who is this person who doesn’t have a mascot?’ along with a slightly disgusted look of that’s no good for my class before quickly moving on to my friend to find out who her mascot was and when she replied with ‘The Yellow Jackets‘ (aka Georgia Tech University) the teacher was once again not happy! Turns out she’s a Bulldog (University of Georgia) and therefore a Yellow Jacket rival! Ooops!! She was definitely not impressed with us!!

The football theme continued throughout the weekend – adverts for cars on TV revolve around football, you can buy every single little bit of mascot merchandise you can think of including cool boxes, flags, paper plates, gazebos and anything else you might need to tailgate before a game and of course the games are on TV in most bars and restaurants around Atlanta!! Yep college football is televised!!! You’d never catch a game between Cardiff and Swansea televised back in the UK or any other university for that matter – well apart from the Oxford and Cambridge boat race of course! Turns out the Georgia Bulldogs were playing whilst we were eating dinner with some friends on Saturday night…at times we had to stop speaking whilst the fans got a little bit excited about what was happening! Madness!

So there you have it – I’ve learned something else about America this weekend! Expect more football updates once I’ve actually been to a game and maybe learned a little bit more about it! Then it might not just be a game of very rough rugby!