I graduated from the University of Georgia in 1998 with a B.A. in English.
I worked for the University of Georgia raising money for the Alumni Fund.
I’ve pulled for and loved the University of Georgia for my entire life.
But this year’s Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Classic against Boise State was my epiphany, and this past week’s loss to South Carolina cemented my decision: I’m done with Georgia football.
For a while, anyway.
Now, before some of you pour out the Haterade on my head, let me just say this: it has nothing to do with wins and losses. Not really. I mean, I’m sure if we were winning, it might not occur to me to make such a drastic change in my life. I’m sure, if we were winning, I’d just bite the bullet and keep watching, despite the mounting evidence, despite the warning signs.
But since we’re not winning, since we’re currently looking really, really bad right now, it’s the perfect time for me to step away from the game for health reasons.
Not bad kness, or a bum shoulder. Mental health reasons.
See, as a Georgia fan, I get too invested in the game. Too emotionally involved in the antics of 18-22 year-olds who are simply trying to enjoy the physical prime of their lives by playing a game at which they excel. Too attached to the ebb and flow of the games, to the point that I find myself wiling to say and do things that are not in keeping with my normal behavior.
I first began to notice this a few years ago, when my daughter was two. She toddled in front of the screen during the Georgia-Florida game and I almost lost my mind. Georgia was driving, and right when Stafford was rolling out for a pass, she blocked my field of vision. I couldn’t see what happened on the field, but could hear the announcers sudden change in tone.
Couple that with the fact that Ella had grabbed my face and was trying to tear it off with her fingernails, and it was a bad moment. I pulled her off of me with a bit too much force; she wasn’t hurt, and to be honest, she wasn’t even fazed. But the sudden sense of guilt and remorse for that split-second action was overwhelming. I was too into football.
And ever since then, I’ve noticed that same pattern repeating itself. I watch Georgia football and I get too wired in, too involved in a game that ultimately means nothing to anyone other than fans and the University accounting department. I live or die with each bad call, bad bounce, bad run of luck. I stew like a pot of chili if we lose.
Now, I get worked up watching any sporting event, because vicarious thrills are part of the fan experience. But I don’t get raging mad if the Falcons get beat like an extra in a Bruce Lee movie. I don’t lose my stuff if the Braves suddenly can’t win against the Bad News Bears. I feel the full range of emotions watching any other sporting event without developing the intense mental anguish that comes from watching Georgia football.
In short, I care too much for being just a casual fan.
If I painted my body, spent stupid amounts of money on donations, tickets, paraphernalia, parking, tailgating, and tattoos, then my actions might be justified, because I would obviously be one of those people who are just that into the game, or into the UGA pride thing.
But I’m not that kind of fan. I have one Georgia hat and three Georgia polos. No T-shirts, no sweatpants, no matching socks that bark the fight song (“Glory, Glory to Ol’ Georgia!”). If you didn’t know me, you might not ever know that I was a Georgia fan.
So my temporary insanity makes no sense. Thus, I’m giving up Georgia football for the foreseeable future.
Even if we get good, even if we play for the national title game in the next five years, I don’t know that I’ll be watching, because the good-bad play of the team doesn’t change how involved I get. I’m wired in either way; only the aftermath changes, and that’s not worth the roller coaster ride through mental derangement.
So take heart, Georgia fans: those of you who are true to the Red and Black, who bleed Bulldog blood and bark at unsuspecting strangers, you will not have to worry about this “fair-weather” fan anymore. You won’t have to berate me for not really loving the University or for not being a true fan. You can relax and have the team to yourself.
And there’s a bonus – I’ve found that when I don’t watch Georgia games, or listen to them on the radio, or follow them on the ESPN GameTracker, I’ve found that they tend to do significantly better. Like, I think the Dawgs are undefeated if I don’t care to know how they do.
So if UGA suddenly rises to the BCS pedestal over the next few years, you can send those thank you notes to this blog post.
And know in advance that you’re welcome.