“College football in the South is huge.” Herein lies one of the larger understatements of the 21st century. It’s fans demonstrate their fervor in ways that may seem alarming to the outsider. The following are but a few examples:
While 99.9% of the Southern populous attended a big football school and are absolutely rabid fans there is a small sect of Southern society, of which I find myself a member, who attended universities which may not even have a football program. Certain members of this group might not even care about football. Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy a competitive game but I will never cry, lose sleep, or destroy personal property over any given game. That being said, it’s members must be able to navigate the impending onslaught of social events and interactions surrounding each given week’s games. Having lived in the South all of my life I’ve honed my abilities in this regard and feel it necessary to share my key insights as follows:
1. Know enough to throw out references during conversations. This knowledge can largely be garnered from a visit to the main page of ESPN College Football. This should be done no later than Wednesday evening so one is able to adequately discuss the upcoming Thursday night games as well as the big match-ups for the coming weekend. A follow-up visit is required on Friday as you will need to know the outcome of the Thursday games and inevitably a star player will have been arrested for the possession of an illegal substances or assaulting someone at 4 AM. This will arm you with enough information to tiptoe through conversations at the office and social settings.
2. Have a good cover story. Inevitably you will be asked where you went to school. When you announce the name of your university, which your social counterpart will immediately recognize is not ranked in the top 25, you will receive a perplexed look followed by the question, “Well then, who do you pull for?” Social ostracism is only a slip of the tongue away. My cover is that I always pull for a Georgia team to win. When it’s Georgia vs. Georgia Tech, I pull for Tech since my brother went there.
3. If the social setting requires that you are actually interested in the game (i.e. your best friend has you over to his house to watch his team’s big game and he recently named his newborn after the starting quarterback) place a meaningful wager on the game. I have found the counter-party to the wager should probably be your spouse or significant other as anyone else will more than likely end up with you on the losing side of things given your general lack of knowledge.
Overtime you will find your own methods. Stay classy.