(Hum theme music here: either Monday Night Football or Hockey Night in Canada, whichever you prefer/know.)
1) Go State beat Notre Dame WHOOO! The game went into overtime, then ND got a field goal, then there were seconds left, and State lined up for a field goal to tie and then the announcer said “They’re going for it!” and I looked up from my knitting and somebody ran the football across the line and I was sorry the fans don’t tear down the goal posts and carry the pieces to Mac’s Bar any more. Even if they had lost I would have been glad they didn’t go for the tie.
2) Last night (before the game–I seem to be doing this backwards): ROLLERDERBY!
The bouts seem to be scheduled irregularly, maybe one every other month or so. Athens is small enough that every where you go you’re likely to see someone you know; in the above picture, the woman in the center with the glasses works in the library, and is a nationally known expert on metadata and digital libraries, and the woman on the right side of the picture, with the painted black eye, cuts my hair.
3) It’s one of the more unlikely things I’ve done, but this semester I’m helping teach a class about UGA football–it’s actually about doing research but football is the sugar coating on the pill. We have 14 freshmen, and they don’t seem to hate us yet (although this week I’m having them read and analyze an excerpt of a scholarly journal article, so we’ll see).
Football in the south is different, like the rich are different. Some of my students had gone to a game at South Carolina (they’re the Gamecocks, but you can get shirts and hats that just say COCKS, not that football has any Freudian association with masculinity or anything) and one of the reasons they were unimpressed was that the fans there didn’t dress up for the game, and by dress up I mean ties for the boys and dresses and pearls and heels for the girls. It helps that daytime temps are still in the 90Fs here; it’s hard to be glamorous in a parka.
A couple weeks ago we took the class to the Butts-Mehre (pronounced as written) Heritage Hall, where all the sports relics are on display. I saw no evidence of burning votives.
The building also serves as the offices of the Athletic Association, which is independent of the University, including sports communication and the ticket office. If you’re not employed by or attending the university, to get a season ticket you first have to make a $5,000 “donation” to the Athletic Associaition, and then you can buy your tickets. I asked the person giving the tour if the Association was for-profit or non-profit, and she said “Oh, I think it’s for-profit.”
In the early days of Georgia football a player named Von Gammon was killed on the field. The Georgia legislature passed a bill outlawing football into the state, but Gammon’s mother wrote to the governor asking him to honor her son’s memory by vetoing the bill, so he did, and football was saved. This plaque was given to UGA by the University of Virginia, the opponents in the fatal game. I admire the mother for writing the letter, but this plaque is quite the memorial to a more sentimental age.
We also got to tour Sanford Stadium, which seats 30,000 more people than Soldier Field, the home of the Chicago Bears.
UGA’s mascot is a white English bulldog named Uga. The last Uga, Uga VII, died suddenly last year of a heart attack. All of the Ugas are buried in the stadium.
The new Uga will be introduced at the Vanderbilt game, which will be, um, later in the season (I’ve been watching the games because of this class, but I’m not paying *that* much attention). The position of Interim Dawg has been filled by the previous Uga’s half-brother Russ, who can’t be a real Uga because he’s not all white. The Ugas have been supplied since the 1950s by the Seiler family of Savannah–if you’ve ever seen the movie Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, Sonny Seiler and Uga VI have cameos. Bulldogs have been bred to the point of physical fragility, with their big chests and tiny legs, and PETA thinks the next Uga should be mechanical.
As our guide let us into the university president’s skybox he said “I think this is a good time to tell you that this is all paid for by the Athletic Association.” The skybox holds about 125 big donors and legislators. Our current president came from a very small school, and gossip had it that before their first football game he and his wife told campus catering “Oh, we’ll just have a couple friends in.” They learned.
We were told that the field had just been sprayed by pesticide, so we couldn’t go out on the 50 yard line (this was a Wednesday, so I hope it wore off by gametime). The journal article I’m having the students read is an archaeological report on an ancient Greek stadium, and the excerpt is titled “Imperial Cult Artifacts”, which I didn’t realize was A Comment until my co-teacher pointed it out.