A Fan Of The Fans
Down here in the south, football is life. It doesn't matter whether you're a Tiger, a Ragin' Cajun, a Jaguar, or a Warhawk, if you're from the south, specifically Louisiana, you know come September, Saturdays are dedicated to one thing and one thing only: football.
There's nothing better than waking up early on a Saturday, throwing on your team colors, and heading out to a tailgate with cases of beer just waiting to be opened. While I love every aspect of football, from tailgates to touchdowns, one thing has always stood out to me more than the rest: the fans.
It's the fact that something like a football game can bring people together on so many levels. Whether it's at Cajun Field singing the UL Fight Song with 37,000 people or at Tiger Stadium chanting "LSU" with over 100,000 of your closest friends, the hype is unreal.
I've always admired people who wake up at 7 a.m. on their day off to head out to the field and start cooking jambalaya and pop the tops on cans. They wait in traffic for at least an hour (or 10 minutes if you're lucky) with their team flags flying high from their windows, piling out of cars into a sea of people all wearing the same colors.
The excitement starts to build when you see your best friend, your brother, or your boss (who you know has free beer and free food waiting for you). You hear zydeco music in one ear and country music in the other. You're surrounded by people who all want one thing for their team: A WIN.
I immediately start searching for people I know when I go tailgate, always wearing comfortable shoes because we all know we walk a solid 8 miles on game days. With an ice cold beer in a koozie, and my I.D. in my back left pocket (it's so nice being of age), I take it all in.
All these people are here to support one team on the field, a common ground where gender, ethnicity, age, and sexual orientation all go out the window. We are all fans, and we're all here for a good show.
As it gets closer to game time, the movement starts. Fans are walking in from every direction, ready with tickets in hand and anticipation flowing through their veins. Everyone scrambles to their seats, and for students, we're scrambling to find the BEST seats in the student section.
There's the sudden rumble of all the voices in the stadium, and as the home team takes the field, they become one voice, chanting in unison. There's the kickoff, then there's a beautifully thrown 30 yard pass by the star quarterback. There's an insane touchdown run by our favorite running back, and the extra point is good; all plays resulting in high fives and bear hugs with the person right next to you.
While the football team, cheerleaders, coaches, and concession workers are all a huge part of a game day, I believe the fans are mostly to thank for the love of football in the south. No sporting event would be the same without die hard fans.
Next time you're in a football stadium, I encourage you to take a second in the middle of the game to look around you. Take in all the faces, close your eyes and listen to the noise, and if you're brave, inhale the smelly smell of alcohol and popcorn. It's a euphoric feeling that you won't find anywhere else.
I am a fan of tailgates, and I am a fan of football, but more importantly, I am a fan of the fans.