Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I left my heart (or at least my football fandom) in Georgia

Song 24: Leaving
Artist: Hootie and the Blowfish

For a quarter of a century, I called the college town of Statesboro, Ga. my home. From kindergarten through high school, on to college, my nearly five-year run as a journalist and then back to college for graduate school, I lived in the town. Then, upon obtaining my graduate degree, The Wife got a job in North Carolina, which, you are probably aware, is not in Statesboro.

I've been to this outdoor
basketball court. I'm told it's
in One Tree Hill
And while there is a lot to love about my new town (including, but not limited to, three beaches within 20 miles of my apartment, summer league baseball and professional soccer within walking distance of my abode, two different outdoor concerts every Friday during the summer, fireworks every Thursday during the summer, the courthouse Matlock used in the show, being able to visit scenes from both  Dawson's Creek and One Tree Hill and a plethora of local restaurants so that we don't have to eat at a chain restaurant ever again), there's something missing.

But despite all the amenities my new hometown has to offer, there's a few things that made leaving difficult. My parents and brother and sister-in-law live there (and no, this is not an obligatory mention on the off chance they read this. Why would you even suggest that? Does that seem like something I'd do? It does? Well, maybe in the past, but I've changed.) But of only slightly less importance, The Wife managed to get a job at one of the 32 Division 1 schools to have never sponsored football as a varsity sport (and two of those, UNC-Charlotte and Kennessaw State are adding football by 2014.) Yep, there are more than  340 Division 1 schools, only nine percent have a grand total of zero football tradition. One of them is where I spend my fall Saturdays.

Yes, I'm aware that roughly 60 schools at one point had football and then dropped it, and I'm thinking that may be worse than my current situation, but then again, if it's better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all, wouldn't it also be true that it's better to have had a football program and ended it than to never have had a football program at all? Then again, College of Charleston's last football team played when Babe Ruth was king of the sporting world, so at their class of 1923's 90th reunion, they can reminisce about the good old days at the stadium.

I miss this more than anything
about Statesboro.
Making matters worse is that I left one of the most successful  football programs in the history of the sport behind. Six national titles since 1985, two other title game appearances, the sport's first 15-0 season in history are but a few of the feats of a program that was dormant from the dawn of World War II until the first year of the Reagan presidency. And it's not just the games I miss, but the tailgating. Just walking up and down the parking lot, seeing friends, and generally spending a perfect (if not a little hot) Autumn Saturday in the Prettiest Little Stadium in America. It's not quite the same sitting in my apartment complex parking lot for about an hour before going back inside to watch a game on television.

Don't feel too bad for me. If things get too depressing on a Saturday, I'm sure an afternoon at the beach will help me feel better.

Next Song: Angel of Harlem
Artist: U2

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