College Football Season 2009 from the Coach’s Daughter

collegefootballIt’s blood, sweat and tears…  freshly cut grass and pigskin in the morning… Ladies and gentlemen, it’s OFFICIALLY the NCAA college football season!

Every year, college football means tailgates, beer, cheering on your team, and Saturday afternoons full of celebration with another victory for their alma mater, or their team of choice.

With this time of year comes plenty of reflection for me.  For the past 25 years of my life, I’ve had quite a unique perspective of college football.  This is because I have the somewhat rare position of a college coach’s kid.  That’s right, my dad’s job is not as an engineer, or a doctor, or a lawyer.  My father is an offensive line coach for major universities, and has been since before I was born.

So while the start of the season means tailgates and fun…. for me, it also meant that I wouldn’t be seeing much of my dad. And with that came great anticipation, absolute feelings of heartbreak over losses, and sometimes even lingering questions of job security when the team didn’t do well.  It meant sometimes reading or hearing ugly things about people that were close to me, and trying to tune that kind of stuff out. Very stressful indeed.

This year, however, I am able to view things from a much different perspective.  For the first time in all of my life, dad is not coaching this season.  There have been several shakeups in the industry, and many top collegiate coaches have found themselves on an involuntary hiatus.  This isn’t entirely a bad thing, since I am able to spend much more time with dad, and August for him now means the golf outings and family vacations he has always missed, rather than film meetings and two-a-days.  I honestly welcome this change.  I am finally able to dig into this football season with full, unworried gusto, sans the butterflies and sick feelings over wins or losses that came with my previous seasons experience.

fsugirlsThis past weekend I enjoyed my first college football opener without any true and distinct cares over who wins or loses.  I got to enjoy the game.  Really enjoy.  Of course, it comes with it’s own unique set of circumstances…it’s quite different to have to search for parking spots rather than ride with a police escort directly to the game, and ticket prices sure are high (yes I’ve been spoiled-paying for football tickets never entered my psyche), but it was fun.  However, it made me ponder a few things.

One  of the biggest things that has entered my mind is what does it mean to be a GOOD fan?  We, the families of the coaches, somewhat isolate ourselves when watching the games.  This may seem odd, but when you really think about it, the idea makes sense.  The next time you are at a game, really listen to those around you and what they say.  Some ‘fans’ say some pretty ugly things.  So, it is with this that I provide you with a few guidelines on how to be the best fan possible, while still supporting your team!

  1. No booing. Just don’t do it.  Don’t boo your own team, don’t boo the other team, don’t boo the refs.  Just don’t do it.  It’s unnecessary, as everyone out there is just doing their job.  Not to mention, it’s incredibly tacky.
  2. Try not to be a ‘stadium coach’. Will coaches sometimes make calls that you don’t see as logical?  Yes, sure.  But remember-they have a reason for doing so, as this is their JOB.  They have more at stake than any gambler or fan sitting in the stands.  They will make the best calls that they can.  Nobody enjoys a novice telling them how to properly perform their jobs.
  3. Don’t scream ugly things at the players. These are 18-22 year old KIDS who are playing for their education and to make themselves better.  And remember, you never know who’s mama, grandma, uncle, aunt, sister, cousin may be sitting nearby in the stands.  Cheer them on in a positive manner!
  4. Remember that when you wear your team’s colors or logos, that you are representing them. Always try to give your team a good name by being polite to the opposition and positive when supporting your team.  Having bad fans is a stigma that is difficult to shake, and you never want to be known as ‘that team’ that people don’t like to be around.  Some teams fans have been so bad, in fact, that opposing teams have to increase police and security tenfold just to ensure their own physical safety.  The term “rabid fan” is not too far off.
  5. The referees are there to do a job. They will make calls that you love, and calls that you hate.  They are impartial and rarely make outright ridiculous calls.  Do they happen?  Sure.  But it’s sad to me that they have to fear for their own safety when leaving some games.  Leave it on the field!
  6. Handle losses gracefully. Nobody enjoys losing, and those players on that field are playing to further their education and to ensure a place in the world for themselves, whether it’s as an NFL running back or as a CPA.  Support them through losses and wins.

I hope you all enjoy the games with good friends, good beer, and good food.  Let’s all celebrate the fact that our great nation has such a strong tie to a national sport, and that we all enjoy it so much.  And when going to a game to support your team, bear in mind some of the pointers that I have offered.

Remember, to many of you it’s just another game.  But, to many others, it’s a livelihood.

Roll Tide!  Gig ‘Em Ags!  Go Hokies!
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