Growing up in the south and being part of a family where practically everyone holds a degree from the University of Georgia, a love of SEC football, and more specifically the Georgia Bulldogs, was just about as inevitable as a tendency to use y'all, m'am, and sir and cravings for grits, fried okra, and cornbread (not necessarily all together, mind you).
So you can imagine my horror and dismay when the occasional Brasilian tells me that they have watched some American football, that they do actually like it, and then go on to talk about their favorite NFL team or player. Oh, now, goodness gracious! That is not football people! I then start in on my spiel about how college football is so much better, especially Southeastern Conference (SEC) football. My ramblings are usually met with a confused look and audible "Oi?"
And then I have to try and explain the concept of college sports which is so completely foreign that I have a really hard time getting it all across clearly. (Take the passion of the professional soccer fans and subtract things like fireworks in the stands and everyone taking their shirt off and swinging it over their head and instead put the women in cute red and black dresses - remember, this is Georgia we're talking about - but apply it to something sort of like the club teams here, but um, yeah, not exactly really.) And then I have to get into the whole thing where it varies a lot in different parts of the nation too. While college football is plenty big other places, it is taken pretty much as seriously and given about as much devotion as religion in the south. And then I have to explain the whole "Bible belt" concept to get across just how big of a deal that is. And then somehow that leads me to telling them about laws like not being able to buy alcohol on Sunday in Georgia and how some counties are dry and then all that just thoroughly the confuses the heck out of them. And I am left with this human standing in front of me looking at me as though I am completely out of my mind and they leave shaking their head and mumbling something about "Americanos são muito estranhos" or "Americana louca" or something along those lines. Which I guess basically just makes it another normal day for me. But that is beside the point.
The thing is, however hard I ever thought it was to explain to Eric how different football is in Georgia compared to, let's say, Iowa, it is about a bazillion times more complicated to get across the whole concept to people from another country while speaking a foreign language. And for those who sadly don't know what is different about college football in the south versus elsewhere, let me give you an illustration:
It was my first fall living in Iowa (September 2006, to be exact). Eric was all excited because he was going to take me to the Iowa/Iowa State game in Iowa City. For weeks he is talking it up, telling me all the fun we're going to have. For weeks I am contemplating what I should wear. The week of the game I laid out a couple of way-cute dress and adorable shoes options I was considering and asked Eric for his opinion. His face became all distorted and he asked me if I understood that we were going to a football game. Upon assuring him I was aware of our destination, he then asked me, "Um, okay then, where are your jeans and t-shirt?" I think it was right about then that I fainted. Go tailgating and to a game in jeans AND A T-SHIRT!?! What about the skirts, what about the dresses, what about the perfectly coordinated shoes and accessories? We finally compromised with a jean skirt, nice shirt, and cute flipflops - and I was still rather over dressed for that crowd! And we won't even go into the conversation we had earlier that week as I sat surrounded by all my best cookbooks asking Eric what all he thought I should prepare for the tailgate. There is an entire discussion in one of my good southern cookbooks about planning, preparation, and menu ideas for tailgating. While I had a good enough time at the game, the atmosphere was, in my opinion, much more high school football game than college football game. It just wasn't nearly as much of an affair, nor did it have the energy that I was expecting.
It's just different in the south. And I was once again reminded of that when two of my good friends emailed me this picture this week.
I can only assume this photo was taken after the devestating loss to Alabama two weekends ago which dropped us from a #3 in the country ranking to #10.