By Eliska Counce, TSB Columnist
Ah, it’s that wonderful time of the year when we all gather to join in celebration, feast, and to be of good cheer together. No, I’m not talking Thanksgiving or the holidays, folks! I’m talking one of the major religions of the South: college football. It’s November in America, and that means our favorite sport is on. And women of the South are just as big a fan of college football as the men. Don’t underestimate us. Here’s some basic rules for the discerning Southern woman when it comes to watching college ball:
Now, down South, we females know how to dress for college football games. Men wear suits and ties in the stands (or at least a nicely pressed Oxford and team cap), and you might find any proud Southern girl in the stand outfitted in Ralph Lauren skirt, impeccably matched riding boots, and diamond earrings. There’s a fifth of bourbon tucked lovingly into her Chanel tote. Wallets not necessary – that’s what our dates are for. Our stadiums, like our hair, are bigger than yours. Our weather is perpetually climate.
We Southern women also know about football. We’re versed. We know what a PAT, a quarterback sneak, and an offensive I formation are. Your daddy may have taught your about how to change a tire. But our daddies made sure we knew what true defensive pass interference looks like and what a chop block is. Where women from other states in the union might demur, “My, what a violent play,” you can find your Southern woman shrieking from the stands something like “Catch that sumbitch and break his knee!”
A Southern girl also knows all about the rules of ticket procurement, parking, and game day. We come to expect we can only get on the waiting list for next year’s season tickets this year. We know the trailers and vans start parking on Wednesday before the game at the Grove or Five Points or whatever your Southern college has named the spot where alumni park their over-sized RVs to drink and smoke what can only be described as an entire slaughterhouse of assorted meats. There are individualized smokers shaped like our mascot. Classes get canceled the Fridays before rivalry games. Live bands perform before game time in the parking lot, and they share your beer. Don’t know where the stadium is? Be quiet. You’ll hear it. The crowd is bigger on game day than the city that hosts the game.
Yes, booze plays a major role for most Southerners, female or male, on game day. But we’re classy enough to dump out half the coke from our team mascot cup to leave room for the bourbon. You can smell it in the air after each score. It helps us sing the national anthem with verve. We’ve just got to be a little more careful around the halftime fireworks.
And we in the South stay at the stadium until the last rib is eaten off the smoker. Doesn’t matter if our team wins or loses, there’s always time for another rack to go on and another trip to the package store. We’ll need that bourbon for planning for the first tailgate party of the next season, you see.
And as ludicrous as this claim will likely seem to outsiders, here, you are effectively born into loyalty toward a football team. Families carry their allegiances through generations. If you are born into a family divided (God forbid you have both OU and Texas fans in the family), then your family members will fight for your loyalty from the moment you are born. Here in the South, asking “Who do you root for?” is something akin to asking your political party, only it’s socially acceptable to talk and fight about it with and without logic. It’s the one place where “if you don’t have nothin’ nice to say” doesn’t apply. We worship God on Sunday and the SEC on Saturday.
So if you’re a transplant or, heaven help you, a Northerner, perhaps this information helps you understand the nature of the Southern girl and our beloved football. Because not only is college football a matter of family loyalty, it’s a matter of pride. And yeah, it’s weird. But it’s football. And we Southern girls love it.