The Moment I Got Football

by | Leave a Comment | Tags: , , , , | on Oct1 2013

Booming cannons and waving flags

The Crouching Dude sent a ball flying under his legs to the Main Guy behind him. Okay, pretty routine. I’ve seen this dance a dozen times. The Main Guy quickly bounced it to a Running Dude eager to catch the ball – it landed perfectly in the Running Dude’s chest. Clean pass. That’s when the anticipation kicked into high gear. Would the Runner Dude get tackled immediately or will he pull something magical? The answer came quickly. The Running Dude ran really fast, adroitly weaving through a mass of men jumping at him. The crowd started to cheer. And as he ran, the cheering leaped exponentially with every yard he conquered. Against all expectations, he kept going. And going. And going. All the way to the end zone. The masses were ecstatic. A few of them literally died from seeing such an awesome spectacle. A dozen girls swooned. Holy shit, football is awesome.

You might be asking yourself if I know anything about football, having read the previous paragraph. Let’s be honest – I don’t. But during my first football game, UT Austin vs Kansas State on September 21st, my football IQ grew a few quanta. I grew from knowing that each team is trying to get a ball to their opponents’ end zone to knowing that each team had four tries to advance their position ten yards. Yes, I’m still the most basic of football spectators, but that didn’t stop me going to see Texas play.

UT’s football games are perhaps the biggest cultural export of the university. People follow Texas football avidly in Texas, across the nation, and anywhere Longhorns happen to live. (I’ve seen people live stream from Podgorica, Montenegro in the middle of the night.) As a student at UT, game day always felt festive: Oodles of people all in the same shade of orange playing their part in an exodus to the stadium. All the sports bars filled up to their necks in fans. Some heading to their friends’ apartments with queso in hand. The post-game chatter in the elevators; some disappointment, some hope.

For the past three years of my college life, I ignored UT football. I simply didn’t have much of an interest in following sports. I have never followed soccer, tennis, baseball, basketball, or cricket; none in my family did either. I once went to a Super Bowl party, but I can’t put a finger on how much of it was for the Chevy ads. The games were mythical happenings I heard about, but didn’t see first-hand. I could see how one would love them, but I knew they weren’t for me.

Since it’s my last year at the university, I thought it’d be a travesty of sorts if I graduated without ever having seen a game. I let it out on the grapevine that I was interested in buying a football ticket. Soon enough, a few weeks later, a twenty dollar ticket landed in my lap. What a deal! Joining a few other newcomers, I joined the game day exodus to the stadium.

Gazing at the sea of orange and white from the stands is an impressive sight. Sporting events are the great communal experiences of the United States: it’s not every day you get to see nearly one hundred thousand people come together to experience something. They’re almost religious – the game pushes fans every way emotionally. After some shenanigans, we moved into our friends’ section, where we joined in the ever-present chorus. It’s surprising how quickly one can get into the yells and boos. I learned quickly to be happy when the Running Dude runs really far and that referees always make bad calls. Taking part in grand American sporting tradition, I sold an arm and a leg to buy a bottle of water. Each touchdown incited a riotous celebration – people running across the field with enormous flags waving, a booming cannon booming, the aforementioned girls swooning. Our team lit the cannons more often than we were quieted by KState’s touchdowns, so we won. More riotous celebration – players shaking hands, thunderous applause, a good mood. Oh yes – and the warm feeling of seeing the tower turn orange.

Sometime in the third quarter, I think I finally got football.

About Prad Nelluru :
Prad Nelluru is a sophomore computer science major and the current Editor-in-Chief of Nazar. He likes to write about film, campus events, and things that bug him. He loves cold mango lassi and hot bajjis.
View all posts by Prad Nelluru
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