It's Tarheel Football Time! Okay, so maybe that's not a reason to celebrate for some fans. I mean Carolina did end last season 6-6 and lost to Boston College in the Continental Tire Bowl. But hey, it's almost football season. Is your heart pounding? Do your hands sweat? Does the thought of a crisp autumn afternoon punctuated by the screams of thousands of fans and the sound of high-impact plastic helmets crashing into one another make you dreamy? If so, you might be a college football fan.
Allow me to explain. In my last post, I talked about my dad. Don't mean to be morbid, but it had been 10 years since he died. Okay, so one of the things that we did share was Carolina football. If you have heard Andy Griffith's old comedy routine called "What it Was Was Football" I knew exactly what he was talking about, right down to the Big Orange Drink.
We used to get them at the stadium in a big plastic cup emblazoned with the Carolina logo, the word "Carolina" and they held about 24 ounces of soda (give or take a few ounces because of the ice). I remember as a kid thinking that they were the greatest thing because you could take them home! Not like the paper cups that you had to throw away. Nah, you could take these bad boys home and use them again.
So my Dad and I bonded a lot at Kenan Stadium. Because of his handicap we had a parking sticker that got us right next to the gate on the alumni side and we could walk right in and sit down.
And it was great. Fall, especially as the weather got cooler, and the colors emerged in Chapel Hill, was almost a religious experience. Everything was beautiful including the grass, the trees, and of course the coeds. It was a young man's fantasy -- but when it was actually my turn to be a college man going to the game and sitting in the sacred ground of the student card section, I found it less than fulfilling.
See the life I was living my first semester at Carolina left me feeling vacant inside. Drinking, partying, smoking dope, screwing around -- they all left me with this unbearable ache. The life I had hoped for was all a fantasy. Real life was a lot different.
But even that was redemptive in a way. Because I sowed whatever wild oats I could that first semester, I came to realize my need for Christ.
And in January of my second semester, I asked Him to save me, and He did. And the fulfillment I had been looking for, and the peace I was missing and the hope that I had longed for suddenly were real. I went from being a Rocky Horror Picture Show freak to witnessing on campus in what was known as "the Pit" in front of the bookstore.
I went from sleeping around to telling my old girlfriends about Jesus. I went from staying out all night drinking to staying out at a prayer meeting. It was a radical change. It was such a change that people in the theatre department asked me "what has happened to you?!" And I could not help but tell them.
So college football holds a kind of double memory for me. It's not really bittersweet, but it's realistic. I enjoy a good game as much as the next fan. I love it. I love to see Carolina win and I hate it when they lose. But I know that their wins and losses are not the be all and end all of life. But I still hold fond memories of Kenan and Chapel Hill.
Oh and by the way "Aye Zigga Zoomba" is sung at Carolina football games. It's not "Ziggy Zoomba" like Bowling Green, and it's not some Campfire song. It's what Carolina fans sing, especially after their favorite beverage.