A drinking town with a football problem

A quick glance at my friends’ statuses on the Facebook will confirm: It’s college football season again. At the time of writing this, seven of the most recent ten updates are “Go Gators!” and a lone “Go Noles!” although to be fair, they don’t play until Monday. Try as I might, I’ve never got whole-heartedly, drop-all-else into American football. Plenty of people have tried to explain it to me, and I’ve been to Superbowl parties and even an ACC Championship game. And while I’m definitely more into “football” – at the college level, at least; the NFL still holds no appeal – I have trouble with paying attention to a fixture for more than three hours at a time.

All that said, I really do enjoy the game-day atmosphere. This is the first season in six years where I’m not in a college town, and I do miss the environment, the team unity, the tailgates, and for want of a better word, the inebriation, that a home game brings. My experience in Gainesville over the last three years lacked some of this excitement because at my house, we sold parking to match attendees, and this overlapped with pre-game festivities. By the time we were done, everyone would be settled inside the stadium, so there’d be no fun left.

Since FSU is facing Miami on Monday in Tallahassee, I’m reminded of my favourite experience – four years ago today. Again, Miami were up in Tallahassee on Labor Day (a Monday), and as you might expect, the drinking began sometime early on Friday. After something of a rest for a couple of days, I got the call on Sunday at lunchtime that everyone was meeting at Tim’s. These were the days when I didn’t have a car, so someone came and picked me up, and after picking up a 24-pack, we got to Tim’s house. We spent the next thirty hours drinking, barbecuing, watching sports and movies – it was one of the most fun nights of my college career. In the morning, we went to the supermarket, bought eggs and made breakfast for about twelve people, all of whom had made it through the night.

The house was a few blocks from the stadium, and on the way there, we joined an ever-growing throng of painted people heading to the game. In the stadium parking lot there were more burgers and beers, and by the time we sat down, we’d been awake for about forty straight hours. I don’t know if this is a standard thing for hardcore football fans before every home game, but for a curmudgeon like me, it was taking its toll. At half time, FSU was up 10-7, and I could barely keep my eyes open. I headed home – an uphill walk on Pensacola St. that took far longer than it ought to – and went straight to sleep. Luckily for me, no more points were scored in the second half, so I didn’t miss anything.

I definitely miss the days of spending entire days doing nothing but feeling like it’s everything. And even though following one football team is stressful enough, I promise: I’ll try and care more about the college game this season. For at least a week.

And now for an old favourite.


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