It’s Christmas in October for College Football Fans
Fall is a wonderful time of year. In fact, on my personal list of all-time favorite seasons, fall is in the top four.
A great aspect of fall is the good ol’ American tradition of college football. There is nothing quite like the atmosphere of a college campus on game day. There is the crisp, clean autumnal air rustling through the brilliant foliage. There is the ivy clinging to the sides of majestic brick buildings. And of course, there are students and alumni excitedly making their way to pre-game tailgate parties.
Here in Connecticut, there are no fewer than 10 colleges that field a football team. There are the state schools: UConn, Central, Southern, and WestConn; the Coast Guard Academy; and the private schools: Sacred Heart, University of New Haven, Wesleyan, Trinity, and an Ivy League school based in New Haven, whose name escapes me at the moment. But you know it.
This means there are a lot of opportunities to experience the excitement and nostalgia of college game day right here in the Nutmeg State.
There is one surefire rule-of-thumb regarding college football: the less you pay for the admission ticket, the more honest and pure your football experience.
Let me explain. There are college football programs in America that rival the National Football League. Schools like Alabama, Ohio State and Oklahoma come to mind. The stadiums are packed with anywhere from 80,000 to 110,000 fans. On game day, the highways for miles around are clogged with cars and trucks and gaudy Winnebagos proudly displaying school colors. It’s a lot like the invasion of Normandy, except with more noise.
The athletes on the field are stunning physical specimens; freaks of nature, really. In many cases the only reason they attend college is to play football and strive for the huge payday of a professional career. These ball players are often separated from the regular student body and usually do not take part in typical college activities. Their sole purpose on campus is to maximize their football skills and try to attract the attention of pro scouts.
There is no doubt game day at a football powerhouse school is a spectacular event. But it’s often shallow and superficial. Many seats in the stadium are so far from the field the players look like ants.
Also, let’s not forget how corrupt big-time college sports can be. The recruiting process is rife with illegal shenanigans.
On the other hand, small schools, like the ones here in Connecticut, have genuine student-athletes (like the afore-mentioned New Haven school). Yes, some of them receive scholarships or financial aid because they play football. But the vast majority are sacrificing so much and working so hard simply because they love the sport. When you attend one of these games, there is no chance your ticket will be in Row 96 (since most fields have seating that only goes up to about Row 20). And there is little chance you’ll need to take out a second mortgage to finance your tickets.
When you attend a football game at a small school, you’ll be a lot closer to the field and the players will be more representative of the student body, even though the odds are slim that they will ever get drafted by the NFL.
Before the gorgeous season of autumn gives way to winter (also in the top four on my list of all-time favorite seasons), make sure you attend a college football game here in Connecticut. The experience will bring back a lot of fond memories and create many new ones.
Bill Dunn is a freelance writer, humor columnist and faith essayist known as The Merry Catholic. His essays appear each week on his website and can be heard on WJMJ radio. Contact Bill at MerryCatholic@gmail.com