This isn’t new to anyone that regularly checks up on Jeff Owens’ blog, but he recently added a post thanking Bulldog nation for everything we do and the support we provide for the team, coaches, and staff. I’d like to take the time to reciprocate and thank him along with the coaches, players, and the staff of our beloved Dawgs.
I waited awhile to post this because I wanted to sit back and reflect what exactly it is that makes Georgia football so special to me. Coming from the state of Georgia with both my paternal grandparents being born and raised in Athens (my grandmother was raised in a home next to those railroad tracks that run alongside Sanford Stadium on the other side of Broad Street), I can’t remember a time in my life where Georgia football wasn’t an important part of it. Not only did I have the connection to the Classic City through my grandparents’ roots, I decided to matriculate to the University of Georgia in 2002 where I spent four years as un undergrad and one year as a grad student that were certainly five of the best and most unforgettable years (at least those memories that I didn’t erase through youthful indescretions) of my life.
After some reflection I’ve come up with several reasons that Georgia football is so special to me and a boatload of other people every Saturday for twelve weeks in the fall. I think some of my reasons hold true for a lot of the schools in the South that have such rabid fanbases. Obviously, much of college football’s fervent popularity can be highly attributed to the fact that there wasn’t a major professional football franchise in the Southern United States until the Atlanta Falcons began play in 1966. Because the South didn’t have a professional franchise that it could rally around, many rallied around their respective state universities and formed connections with their programs that are pervasive through entire families from generation to generation. This obviously isn’t the entire truth, but I think it plays an important part of why we love college football so much. There are many college football fans that I know that only root for teams in the NFL because that team’s star player played at a particular college.
As I gathered my thoughts I realized that college football in the South is so much bigger than the game itself. A Saturday in Athens turns into a huge social gathering. When my friends and I all graduated from college we all knew that despite the fact that we were moving all across the South and across the country to begin our respective careers there were six or seven Saturdays a year where we could all get together to remember good times, update each other with new developments in our lives, and enjoy something that we all have in common (loving Georgia football). Saturday tailgates bring entire families together. I’ve met so many people and made so many friends just because we had this one common defining factor about us (once again, we all love Georgia football).
I also realize that all these great things that a Saturday in the Athens provides me wouldn’t exist without the men that suit up in red and black. Despite everything else that goes on, we are all there because there is a football game to be played. It is rather nice to see that these guys truly appreciate the role we play in what they do every weekend and that they appreciate the support we give. Despite what some believe, Bulldog nation and pretty much any school in the South is a collective community of players, fans, students, alums, residents, and faculty. We are all interconnected through the football program. Many would like to just believe that these guys just go out there and play football and that’s it. That’s not true at all though. What they do has made for many positive events and wonderful memories in my life and others, whether it be before, during or after the actual game. So ultimately, I want to thank Jeff Owens for recognizing us in Bulldog Nation, but I want to send that right back and let him know that we appreciate what he and the rest of that team do every Saturday.