By Coulter Fussell
As I write this the air outside has just a little hint of that cool autumn feel. The light seems a little less brutal and the shadows are stretching longer across the yard. Fall is approaching and we all know what that means to those of us living in the Southeast. That’s right, it means it’s finally cool enough for us to leave our kids in the car while we run in the Piggly Wiggly real quick. Oh wait! No, I meant it means football…yeah, football. Forget that thing I said about the car.
I didn’t grow up a football fan. My dad was a Bama fan and the rest of my family was geographically divided between Georgia, Auburn and LSU.
After Thanksgiving grace at my Alabama-side’s house, they would end the blessing by saying either “Amen, War Eagle!” or “Amen, Roll Tide!” respectively. Everyone in the entire room was wearing sweatshirts of either crimson red or blazing orange. There were elephants and tigers involved (were we in the jungle?) There were also eagles…very mean eagles since they were apparently used in combat. And some sort of mysterious and enigmatic rolling water levels. And this water was crimson? Yikes! This is creepy stuff, people. It was all confusing and the sweatshirts hurt my eyes.
Despite being a weird art kid in high school ( surprised?), I somehow wound up a cheerleader for a stint. I’m not sure how or why that happened but there I was, jumping up and down, wearing a bow on my ponytail and touching my toes. I’m sure my involvement had a lot to do with the miniskirt portion of the uniform.
Our cheerleading squad was actually competitive and won a few state awards but no one seemed to notice. We toiled away at lonely, boring car washes to get gas money to go to meets while our consistently losing football team got steak dinners before games. Go figure. Fortunately, I was a vegetarian or else I would’ve really raised a fuss. That, combined with the fact that I never once understood what in the world I was talking about when I cheered “First in ten! Let’s do it again!” made me not really appreciate the sport.
But, then I moved to Oxford. It was a sink or swim situation. If-you-can’t-beat-em-join-em had never been so true for me. I became a Rebel fan by necessity and now I kinda like to watch a football game. I have to give credit not to the Rebels for this, but to whoever invented that yellow line thing on the TV screen. The one that shows first down. At age 22, after growing up smack dab in the middle of SEC country and being a football cheerleader, I finally realized that the faceless dudes in the shoulder-y outfits are trying to get past that yellow line. Then they get to stop and try to get past that yellow line again. And they beat each other up real bad while they do this. And that’s the whole game. Hallelujah! It all suddenly made sense.
Small town football I’m realizing is a really big deal and my oldest son is growing up an avid Blue Devil fan. He asked me to take him to a game the other night and I drove him down to our stadium. We got really great seats! We could see the entire field very clearly! Too bad I hadn’t realized the game was in Coffeeville.
Next time, son.