Garrett and I rarely get a date, so the fact that we had an entire day together was an exciting prospect. Spending it on the campus where we met almost nineteen years ago was rather romantic. The stadium was packed, the game was tremendous, and the University of Oklahoma won in overtime. Bonus fun!
Don't let me mislead you. I am not what you'd call a football fan. People stopped inviting us to Superbowl parties years ago. This weekend I had a revelation. I realized when the love was lost.
In high school I was a cheerleader. The news stations came to our games and recorded our pep assemblies. Red and black was everywhere because school spirit was contagious. It was easy to be a fan then. Our teams won. All the time. My little high school had impressive athletes. Games were a blast. I grew up thinking that sports were always like Switzer's Sooners and my hometown Bulldogs. If my school didn't win the championship each year in basketball, football, track or whatever, we held our own in the finals.
As a little girl, I thought that being a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader was a reasonable and attainable career choice.
After attending OU, of course. I'd heard you could learn things besides football there.
Then I went to OU...during the early nineties. Football fans, you may recall this as the dark ages. Coach Schnellenberger. Coach Blake. Just thinking about it makes me frown.
After one of the first home games, I remember refusing to leave the student section when everyone else had gone home. Hot sun reflected off the empty bleachers surrounding me. I was going to be a real fan and stand by my team. Sweat poured down my face and back, but no one was around to see it. I stuck it out until the fourth quarter, then I left, too. It's not like anyone was there to see me leave. It was like our team had never shown up in the first place. The score was demoralizing.
It was that moment when I defected.
College can be confusing for many reasons. It's a time people reinvent themselves, lose themselves, renew themselves, etc. But if this small town Oklahoma girl didn't even have a football team that was good, what was I to hold onto? How could I have school spirit?
After that, the madness that hit campus every game day surprised me. What was the big deal? Didn't these people realize it was just football? College campuses were supposed to house smart people. Didn't they realize in a few hours they were going to be upset at their "victory" parties because our team was awful? What was with all the pomp and circumstance? How long could a team--no, an entire school--live on their laurels?
For some reason, yesterday gave me perspective and made me get it.
|at his first OU game holding his first football|
"The guns are loud. I don't like that," he said.
Then he told me what he did enjoy. "I like it when the whores run on the field."
I'm pretty sure he meant the horses and the Sooner Schooner.
He also told me "tailgating is the best part."
As The Pride's baton twirler artfully tossed flaming sticks into the air, I thought about my Max and his wise words.
Maybe game day isn't about football after all. Maybe it's about being a part of a community. Sharing fun. Reliving memories and creating new ones.
This must be what the Grinch felt like when his heart grew three sizes in one day. With the help of his dog Max, the Grinch took their Christmas presents, but the Whos celebrated anyway.
Even in the dark ages of football, OU fans gathered together for a common purpose.
Wow. I get it.
Of course, it didn't hurt that we won the game. Boomer Sooner!