If you’re a hard-core college football fan, you’re always on the lookout for scheduling conflicts that can interfere with the upcoming season, whether it be a wedding, a reunion or whatever. It’s even worse for die-hard fans if the event conflicts with a big game.
I know, that’s relatively minor as life’s hardships go, more an unnecessary annoyance. But, as one fan said to me recently, folks who were raised in this part of the country, especially in Athens, really ought to know better than to schedule something on a football Saturday.
Of course, that’s not just a consideration for college football fans. Such devotion in sports can be found worldwide. I remember on a visit to my mom’s homeland of Wales one of my uncles praising a niece for scheduling her wedding around an upcoming tournament the Welsh national rugby team was playing in.
“Good religious girl,” he cracked.
Anyway, the recent conversations about dealing with such conflicts reminded me of something I wrote six years ago, in which I came clean and trotted out my own story of facing such a choice. See if you can relate to any of this. …
Where’s the fine line between fandom and fanaticism? I couldn’t tell you exactly, but I’m pretty sure I’ve crossed it a few times in my life.
One hint is when I’m telling a nonfan or a more casual follower of the Bulldogs one of these stories and their eyes kind of widen. Or maybe, like my son, they smile and shake their head in disbelief.
Like back during the 2004 season when I faced one of those scheduling conflicts that devoted, season ticket-holding Dogs fans sometimes encounter … having to choose between being best man in a wedding or attending a game in Athens between the No. 3 Bulldogs and defending national champion LSU.
I chose the LSU game, of course.
When my friend first contacted me and told me he was getting remarried down on the Gulf coast on Oct. 2 and he’d like me to be the best man, I immediately checked my UGA schedule, as I routinely do concerning Saturdays in the fall.
“Uh, that’s the LSU game in Athens,” I said. For emphasis, I repeated: “LSU!”
My friend knew what I meant and understood. “I had a feeling you were going to say that.”
Now, understand, my friend is also a Dogs fan and he knows how I am about games in Athens, so his choice of date puzzled me. I asked him why he didn’t set the wedding date around the home football schedule.
“We did,” he said. “Auburn’s football schedule.” His wife-to-be, it seemed, was a major fan of the former Alabama Polytechnic Institute. War damn Eagle, indeed.
So come their wedding day I was in Athens, watching the Dogs beat Nick Saban’s team like a drum, 45-16, as David Greene set a school record with five touchdown passes. One of the greatest games I ever saw in Sanford Stadium.
I was talking about this recently and my wife reminded me that back in the early days of our marriage I skipped her cousin’s wedding because of a UGA home game. But, I pointed out, I wasn’t supposed to be in that wedding. Plus the bride and groom were both Georgia grads; they should have known better.
There have been, of course, instances where I have missed games in Athens, though rarely big ones. I couldn’t be at the TCU game in 1980 because I was an ocean away on a trip to Britain with my wife and parents. That was the first home game I’d missed in 16 years.
I’ve missed a couple of games in the years since then because of work conflicts and a couple more because of illness. But it could have been more if I hadn’t been willing to go to extremes … like back in the late 1980s when I worked Saturday mornings on the ironically named Bulldog edition of the Sunday paper and didn’t finish until noon. I would lead-foot it on I-20 in order to make it to my seat at Sanford Stadium sometime in the second quarter.
Such is my devotion. Or obsession, depending on your point of view.
Feel free to share tales of similar cases of hard choices caused by your Dawgmania.
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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg
Bill King is an Athens native and a graduate of the University of Georgia’s Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. A lifelong Bulldogs fan, he sold programs at Sanford Stadium as a teen and has been a football season ticket holder since leaving school. He has worked at the AJC since college and spent 10 years as the Constitution’s rock music critic before moving into copy editing on the old afternoon Journal. In addition to blogging, he’s now a story editor.