One of the more fascinating (?) aspects of living in Ohio is the Cult of Football. After years of living abroad, football is futball to me. I got over it. There were neither Saturday college matches to watch or attend nor Monday Night Football. One adapts and moves on. The San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers were replaced by Manchester United and Real Madrid. Culturally, this was a loss, but not a huge one.
While I was gone taxpayers funded bigger and better football stadiums, salaries, and scholarships.
I will be the first to admit I was confused, my first football season in Columbus, by the sea of the Scarlet and Gray on Fridays. Searching for olive oil in Costco, marooned, colorless, in the aisle with both an Amish and a Muslim couple, we stood out like sore thumbs. There were Buckeye necklaces, fat knobby nuts strung on satin ribbon, festooning the flat-chested and big boobed alike, women universally attired in bulky sweatshirts; football jerseys clung to men searching for steak like armor, stocking their carts with beer, Cheetos, and the laundry detergent their wives asked them to get.
I would think to myself, “What is going on here? Isn’t the game tomorrow?” Somebody actually had to explain this tradition to me – the psychological pumping of the crowd on Fridays, creating a ripple effect of enthusiasm rolling into game time on Saturday, otherwise known as school spirit. You don’t have to actually attended The Ohio State University to be a FAN. In my naivete, I thought this reserved for the alumni. Why root for a school if you didn’t go there?*
So, when one of my alma maters, the Oregon Ducks, went to the National Championship Football game, I naturally had to root for them. My history with Duck Football is a fraction as storied as Raftbuddy’s so I will let her opine on that entire subject. Mine is infinitessimal. Raftbuddy’s father was a “football figure”, shall we say, and she was a Duck cheerleader. While in law school she was also the president of the U of O Student Body Association. She could also be a member of Mensa but I forget – her list of accomplishments is loooooong.
I was deep in enemy territory on Monday night. If you watched the game, you know what happened. No need to rehash here. Suffice it to say, the Ducks were paddled. Several “friends” have not forgotten to send their condolences for the Duck loss/Buckeye win. Several friends have wisely refrained from making contact (Bea Long and Mrs. Victoria Sekret). During the game, Flaky Friend and I texted throughout the game our anxiety. Raftbuddy and I texted our mutual admiration of Mark Helfrich. The Oregon cheerleaders were much sexier than the Buckeye Gals. I was happy for Buckeye #43 as he coached Thing 3 in powderpuff football her freshman year – Darren Lee is a wonderful person and an outstanding player. But for the life of me, I could not understand why Shelley Meyer was crying as she swamped Ezekiel Elliott in a hug aftewards.** Two reasons occurred to me the next morning: a) her husband was perhaps not such a peach to live with this QB injury plagued season and b) they got a bonus ($250K!).
So what does this have to do with Jesus, after all? Civility, that’s what. In educated America, we are politically correct in almost every aspect of our life, fearful of offending other people, tiptoeing around hot button topics, keeping our neighbors at arms’ length lest we express a contrary opinion and ruin the relationship altogether. We will not say radical Islam. We dance around race. But when it comes to football in America, all Jesus bets are OFF. We let our true colors show, in all their gory glory. Sadly, I am not immune. I am (slightly) ashamed to say I was just the teeniest bit elated when my a fellow church congregant, a huge Roll Tide fan, was humiliated by the recent Buckeye victory over ‘Bama (said congregant attends every game, both home and away). He puts more in the plate than I do, I am sure, so again, am letting that pass. Shelley lives on the other side of town and it is safe to say our paths will never cross – I wish her all the best. Je suis Charlie. Tout est pardonne.
In conclusion, a few notes for the Ducks: keep your heads above water, get along swimmingly with your fan base, and wear Green and Yellow every Friday on your Costco run. Start a tradition. Recruit other Oregonians to the cause. A Duck, after all, is bigger, better, and more attractive than a damn Nut.
*As an aside, Coach Urban Meyer went to University of Cincinnati and Duck coach Mark Helfrich went to Southern Oregon University. (If you are employed by the school, you get a pass.)
**Let it be stated: I am a crier. Having said that, I could never, not in a million years, imagine Raftbuddy’s mother doing the same thing. I look forward to being corrected if such is the case.