Saturday, October 14, 2006

Game Day

Today is a Game Day here in our town. Specifically, big-time college football that is a highlight for our entire state. Yes, plenty root for the land-grant/ag school up north a bit, but a whole lot stream into this town in the days and hours before each football game to fill the parking lots, side streets, and any open spaces within a 15-minutes walk of the stadium. They have tailgate parties within sight of the stadium, or gather around a TV at a friend's house, or actually enter the stadium and help make the roars of excitement or frustration that roll into the TV microphones and up and over the top of the stadium for everyone else to hear. The population of our town doubles on Game Days, just like another college town we once lived in (Go Penn State!).

I had some errands this morning and realized that, even though it was only an hour before game time, my best route meant I'd be able to stay at the edge of the intense stadium-bound traffic and travel the opposite direction, so I ventured out. Waiting at the traffic light at the nearby state highway that skirts our town, it was kind of fun to see the stream of traffic coming in, car flag team colors showing that so many people are arriving in our town from all parts of the state for the game this morning. It's a beautiful fall day, partly sunny, not too hot or cold, no rain expected until this evening. Nice.

After my stop at the credit union and several browsing-with-purpose sessions at area bookstores, I headed home in that oddly quiet time when almost all of the unseen doubled population is in the stadium or watching the game at their tailgate or at home. From previous experience I know that the grocery stores are piping the game coverage through their sound system for those poor souls who are not at the game (my guess has always been -- it's really for the store employees, and for the shoppers who want to know when to head home to beat traffic). My path took me about half a mile from the stadium, and it was amazing to see how FULL of vehicles every front yard was, and every side street, and any open space around retail properties. Wow. A lot of money changed hands for that parking!

I never went to a single football game at my alma mater, and I had no idea what I was missing until my beloved took me to football games while we were in grad school at Penn State. What fun! We went to a football game where we were hot and went home sunburned (early September), and to another where we watched the falling snow draw near to us along the valley and snow fell as we headed home (late November). The experience of a college football game is pretty exciting and very fun... as long as you're not losing feeling in your extremities due to wind chill. I think we left that game early, actually.

Our sons would love to attend a football game inside the huge stadium we pass nearly every day. At normal ticket prices it's highly unlikely. We've taken a university walking tour and glimpsed the inside of the stadium, and we've attended a meeting held in a gorgeous room on an upper floor of the stadium with an incredible view of the field, but they have no idea what it's like to attend a football game in this football-crazy town or any other. Someday we'll stumble across an opportunity for a few tickets being given away at the very last minute by someone who knows someone (incredibly unlikely), or we'll be able to buy some game tickets at face value (more likely). Or -- we'll go to a high school game, or attend the spring scrimmage or the fall meet-the-team event in the stadium, or they'll just have to wait until they're in college and can get low-priced tickets themselves. I keep meaning to plan a family outing one game day to enjoy the pre-game festivities near the stadium. There are kids activities and we could see the HUGE TV screen in action, and we'd catch a bit of the excitement.

But then we might end up with not just one, but two local-big-university sports fans in the family, and dear husband and I would not be among them! Ah, the little fears of parents! Dear husband has unbent enough to give them local-big-university T-shirts as gifts, O fatherly love.

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