Monday, August 24, 2015

Where Football Is Everything

For all the excitement about a new season for Georgetown football, facts are stubborn things. In the last 15 years, Georgetown fans have enjoyed just one winning season, and students have a way of smelling a struggling program at a distance. They might come to the first game, they'll show up at the tailgate at Homecoming, and then the talk will turn to basketball.

That's unfortunate in so many ways, but it speaks to a fan base that, for better or (mostly) worse, doesn't appreciate football for what it is: a great game, win or lose. That's an experience you don't get on TV or on a video feed, but for a lot of newer fans, this may be their own experience to the game these days. Unless you're a student at a Big 10 or SEC school, a ticket to one of these high-voltage games would set you back a monthly car payment, and the Patriot League pales in comparison. Add in the lack of any rivalries between Georgetown and schools in that conference, and students tune out before they even give it a chance.

As students return to college across the nation this weekend, one freshmen is ready for football. She's Cole McConachie, from Verona, NJ, who wrote a column at Odyssey Online about what football means to her.

"Football, in a lot of small towns like mine, is the heartbeat of the fall," she writes. "And although football doesn’t completely dominate my small town as I’m sure it does in some small southern towns, it’s such a big part of fall life here. Whether it’s a football game played by the local youth, the high school team, the college players, or a professional team, football is uniting. Football, more than any other sport in America, brings people together."

Another excerpt follows:

"Whether it’s the mother rooting on her son, the girlfriends decked out in their boyfriends’ jerseys, or the old man who played on this same team himself many years ago—everyone comes out for the game. The small sports store in town sells the jerseys of the high school football legends. The band gets the crowd hyped up as we cheer until we lose our voices.

"I can remember spending all day, all weekend, watching games. I’d wake up early to watch my brother play and then stay for the next game, and the next one, until the sun went down and I’d realized the only thing I had eaten all day was a pretzel from the snack bar. I even announced a couple of youth games before I realized that being a screaming fan was more my forte than holding back my cheers through the loudspeaker."

She continues. "The critics complain about the emphasis on the what some call the violent nature of the sport. They complain about the stereotypical “dumb jocks” that football players are made out to be, and although I don’t think they’re heroes like some claim, they’re for the most part good guys and together they make a family. A football team creates the type of comradery [sic] that is rare to come across because every single person is critical to every single play. Every team member has to come together each play to make the pieces work; one man can’t hold the team up alone.

"In my town, the football family extends beyond the field, from the players and coaches to the families and fans, the small businesses, and the booster clubs—football allows people of all backgrounds and walks of life to come together to support one common goal."

And the best part? Where she's headed.

"This fall will be a bit different. I will miss seeing my younger brother’s games and the fan section full of familiar faces at the high school games. But you can guarantee that I’ll be in the stands at Georgetown, at every game cheering on my new team because that’s what I know how to do best."

Memo to the Gridiron Club: get this student a t-shirt, a jersey, a front row seat at the tailgate, whatever it takes. Georgetown, and college football, needs more fans like this.