Can you feel it? The seasons are changing. It’s cooler outside. The leaves are starting to change colour. Kids are going back to school and their parents won’t shut up about pumpkin spiced something or other. Fall is here! And that means one important thing.
Yes, the biggest exercise in needless spectacle since Michael Bay’s most recent
“film” is back! If you’re a football fan, this is the best time of year. The NFL season is right around the corner, but before that comes college football, where 18-22 year old men destroy their bodies in front of hordes of screaming fans. Everyone’s here! From bushy-tailed freshman ready to embrace their newfound freedom by drinking their car’s weight in beer to old broken-down alumni who are on the cusp of realizing that their alma mater winning a national championship is at this point the only way they’ll ever feel connected to success. It’s great!
If you’ve never lived in the United States, you may be unfamiliar with how popular college football is, but let me assure you, it’s absurd. We’re talking on-campus stadiums that can seat over 100,000 people. We’re talking coaches with $5 million yearly salaries.2 We’re talking primetime television and sky-high ratings. From the Deep South to the Pacific Northwest, it’s the sport that brings everyone together (and then quickly divides them). I don’t think there’s anything quite like it in the world.3 It’s one thing for a team to represent a city, but an exclusive community like a university? The team feels like it belongs to you a bit more. It’s a special feeling.
This past Saturday was the first game of the season for most schools throughout North America, and for once, I decided to ignore the big games featured on the big American networks and instead tune in online to Eversport.tv to watch the Clan take on the Idaho State Bengals in Pocatello, Idaho. This was my school’s first football game of the season and I was pumped to finally participate in the revelry!
Well, uh, it was a massacre. The Bengals thumped the Clan 47-3, and SFU never had a prayer. Granted, that’s usually what happens when a Division 1 team plays a Division 2 team. The Clan fought hard and even had a few promising moments. They held their own early on and even managed to move the ball to the Bengals’ 2nd yard line. But after the offense stalled out and was forced to go for a field goal (which was promptly missed), the game was essentially over by the end of the 1st Quarter. The Clan ended the game with -22 rushing yards, which I’m pretty sure I’ve only seen while playing Madden on easy mode. Some are saying that the game showed more promise than when SFU played Idaho State a few years ago (Idaho State won 66-14), but at least the Clan had scored a couple touchdowns in that game. They only got a measly field goal this time around. In fairness, beatdowns aren’t uncommon in college football, and given that SFU was playing a team in a division above their own, they actually didn’t do too badly. I should at least be grateful they weren’t shut out.
Despite the doom and gloom of the actual game, it was pretty fun to watch an SFU football game on NCAA College GameDay™ [trumpet fanfare accompanied by rapid cuts of football players concussing each other]. After years of feeling like an outsider while watching Oklahoma play Ohio State, I finally got to participate in the tradition. Sure, the production value was lower than the smack-you-in-the-face HD of the big American networks. There couldn’t have been more than a couple hundred people in the stands and the cameraman fell for trick plays more often than the defense did. The audio was borrowed from the local radio station and the two commentators sounded so similar that I’m not entirely sure it wasn’t just one guy in a booth playing two practically identical characters.4 But I got to watch MY team, dammit, and by golly it felt special. Because this team feels like it belongs to me a bit more.
NEXT WEEK: The hockey season begins as the Clan travels to UBC to take on the Thunderbirds in an exhibition game that serves as the final meeting between these two rivals this year.
- The more excited you get, the fewer syllables you pronounce, until it sounds more like “fffffOOOOOOOOOBAAAWWWWWW!!!” ↩
- And the players get nothing! Admittedly the way college players get treated is one of my main concerns about the college sport landscape in the United States, but that’s a subject for another time (and a better writer). ↩
- Specifically I’m talking about school-based athletics in a school setting. The only thing I can think of that compares is the Olympics. ↩
- These guys sounded so uncomfortable having to talk about “the Clan.” And it’s pronounced “Fraser,” not “Frasier,” you tossed-salad-and-scrambled-eggs-loving jerks! ↩