True confessions

I have a confession to make. A confession that, when I speak the horrible words, may shock you to the very core. A confession that should probably never pass the lips of any self-respecting Southern gal.

Here it goes. On the eve of college football season, I say these words:

I don’t care who wins.

There you are. It’s out. Out for all the world to hear (or read, as the case may be).

Now before you get your panties in a wad, I am not saying that I don’t love college football with every fiber of my being. I do. From the first seconds of ESPN’s College Gameday until the last seconds tick off the clock of the last game, I’m there. The roar of the crowds, the cadence of the bands, the shrill of the whistle, the crushing sound of shoulder pad hitting shoulder pad — every little minute is a thrill.

But I don’t care who wins.

You see, I went to the University of Montevallo, Alabama’s only public liberal arts college. It has no football team. The closest I got to a gridiron in the four years I spent there was a game of touch football played in a muddy field during a tornado drill and a few intramural flag games. (For the record, while I am fast, I cannot catch a ball to save my soul.) But I loved every little minute of my time there, including and especially our yearly homecoming celebration, the culmination of which is a musical theater production. Need I say more?

I don’t have a dog (not even a Bulldog) in the football fight.

But we did watch a lot of football during my years in Montevallo. Every Saturday we huddled around a 36-inch television in the local deli (JeRoe’s, God rest its brick and mortar soul sacrificed to make way for a McDonald’s). With dozens of our closest friends we watched Alabama and Auburn battle it out against the rest of the SEC. There was chili and beer and high-fivin’ and smack-talkin’ and hootin’ and hollerin’. Just like there should be when the State’s finest athletes take the field.

But I didn’t care who won.

I do have my favorite teams, and I wear their colors proudly. I cheer for the Crimson Tide in honor of Daddy and my best friend, both Alabama graduates. I holler for the Georgia Bulldogs, Husband’s by-God favorite. If Auburn isn’t playing either of the aforementioned, I cheer for them. If I go to Publix to stock up on snacks, I’ll greet my fellow shoppers with a “roll tide” or a “hunker down” and merrily continue on my way.

But I don’t care who wins.

I don’t care who wins because regardless of who is on the line of scrimmage, every Saturday I am still surrounded by my closest friends as we watch the games, although the screen is, thankfully, much bigger now. We have our rivalries and after the games are over so are the hard feelings, which were really just sort of half-hearted anyway. There is still the chili and beer and high-fivin’ and smack-talkin’ and hootin’ and hollerin’. Just like there should be when the State’s finest athletes take the field.

I don’t care who wins because I want everybody to win. I want the heart of every Mama who sits in the stands giddy with excitement and praying for an injury-free game to swell with pride. I want every Daddy who spent countless hours throwing passes in the yard and standing on the sidelines during endless practices to cheer until he’s hoarse. I want every student to leave the stadium with the satisfaction that their team did the very best they could and fought the honorable fight.

I don’t care who wins, and I hate for anyone to lose. But I must confess, I purely love to watch them play.