Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Football in the South

There is one thing I miss more than any other this time of year: college football.

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.


justin said...

Oh, how I hope that picture is real and not photo-shopped! I'll be thinking about you while I'm at the Tennessee game this weekend!

Lori - Blondie in Brazil said...

Totally agree with you about college football. We are Big 10 fan's having gone to Purdue and when it comes to the SEC we tend to cheer for you UK since we went to grad school and I worked there for 3 year. However, I am in love Uga! You have the best mascot ever!

That photo rocks! Football is serious business around college towns. :)

Mrs. De Miranda said...

Thank you!! I was having a conversation with one of my sales reps (who is from new jersey) and he does not get "what the big deal is about college football. NFL is so much better" WHAT?? Are you crazy? College football is the BEST because it is REAL rivalry! It dates back years and years! I grew up with the SEC as well, and when I went to school we had the MWC, which was still good, but different. No dresses, no good food. T-shirts and jeans, hotdogs and pizza. But it was still WAY better than NFL.

Anonymous said...

I didnt want to say anything to you Emily b/c I was afraid it might be detrimental to the baby!! But that sure was a beat down the Tide gave you a cpl weeks ago. The worst part is you werent here to watch it with me this time. Since I had to endure all of your Georgia chants last year!!! Anyways...ROLL TIDE


Corinne said...

Seeing as I am related to All-American and former Iowa coach Forest Evashevski, so can imagine football was big in our house. It was disappointing to go to undergrad back East at a school without a decent team. BUT, then I did my Ph.D. at University of Texas - now there´s a state that takes it´s football seriously - all of it, not just college - even high school games are televised!! It is really impossible to explain this to Brazilians, hats off to you for trying!!

Emily said...

Thanks Lori for pointing that out. We really do have the most awesome mascot in the country! Uga totally rocks!

Jared: I don't like you. But thank you for considering the health of Z Baby. Luckily (at times like the GA/AL game) I'm not able to watch the games here...I really don't think those types of stress levels would be good for my unborn child! ;)

AcesHigh said...

I think the college sports thing is hard to explain to ANY person not from North America. I am almost sure europeans would also frown on you when you talk passionately about college sports.

Now, its funny that a brazilian would say "americana louca" when its clear that its the "bible belters" who are insane :)

Well, at least you gave us Coke. You are forgiven.

Pacifica said...

When I was there in May I tried to explain ice hockey. Most of them had never even seen the game and those that had did not understand the game.

They also thought I was crazy for playing such a violent sport. I couldn't get them to understand that I play in a recreational league and there is no fighting or checking.

Amanda said...

I don't think my husband could make it through life without college footbal! When the kids were in the hospital last fall some of the only times we actually got excited was during UGA and LSU games. There is nothing like COLLEGE football in the whole world!

Amanda said...

Oh yeah I meant to ask Justin some questions: Do you have a side job at the hibatchi restaurant in Tallahassee FL? I swear you were the waiter at the next table. If you ever want to find your twin, go there! AND Were you at the presidential debate this week? I swear you were sitting in the crowd. Jon laughs at me (but agrees with me) because I seem to be seeing YOU every where we go!!

Justin said...

Hey Amanda- It's kinda funny, but I get that all the time. It seems that at birth, I was separated from many of my siblings, because people I know are always finding my "twins", and people I don't know are always saying "You look just like someone else I know".

As far as celebrities are concerned, I've been compared to Justin Timberlake (yay!), Ryan Stiles (boo!), and Ethan Embry (who's he?).

Ray Adkins said...


This one is for all the college football lovers out there:

A woman was walking through her new house with the contractor. As
they walked through rooms, she told him what color she wanted
him to paint each room. In the bedroom she said, "I think this would be nice
in a cream." The contractor stuck his head out of the window and
yelled, "GREEN SIDE UP!" This perplexed the woman. They moved to the living
room and she said, ?I would love rose in this area." Again the contractor
strolled over to the window and yelled, "GREEN SIDE UP!" Again the woman
was confused but did not say anything. As they walked into the kitchen she
proudly announced that she wanted this room to be, " a glorious
shade of mauve." Once again the contractor went to the window and
yelled,"GREEN SIDE UP!" Finally she could not stand this anymore.

"Why are you shouting GREEN SIDE UP out every window of this house?"

He replied,"I'm sorry. I have a crew of Texas Longhorn students laying sod
across the street."