This December has set dark upon our eyes. Like a marathon, the season lies behind us. Did we look forward to the run? Yes. Did we sprint out of the gate? Yes we did, with a simple joy of running in our hearts, the kind of joy toddlers feel when they run for no reason. But the college football season is a long run, and often in the middle of it we find ourselves wondering why we do it. Why do we stay up late Friday making food for the tail gate? Why do we get up early Saturday and drag four coolers of food, beer, and whiskey across the state? Why do we freeze or sweat in the stands for hours on end? Why do we we do any of this? Then comes that moment when the air is fresh and the band strikes up and we cross out of the tunnel and into the grand stands and our pace quickens a bit, and our stride lengthens. It is only a moment, but it feels wonderful.
Now it's December. We're spent now, the race is run. We're tired. We're ready for something else; a Saturday in a museum, or an afternoon reading a book, maybe even a day out antiquing with our wife. Good isn't what we feel, but we don't regret the journey. Like a long distance runner, there's a certain spiritual peace that fills you in the quite after a season. You were there, you put in the time, you completed your journey, a journey few others will even attempt.
The end of the college football season comes only a few weeks before the end of Autumn. The early sunsets drive us into our homes earlier and earlier, and perhaps this is what drives a man to stare deep into a cup of coffee, watch the bubbles rise from the sugar cubes and wonder...would a play-off really improve college football?
We've made the practical arguments, both for and against, but some how its our cardigan wrapped heart that speaks loudest to us now. Do we really need more noise in our life? Do we really need another lump of coal to run the hype machine? After all what brought us to college football was the simple visceral noise of pads cracking pads. Do we really need a greater context in which to place such a visceral experience? Would a playoff really make the crack that much louder? No.
Our heart is too sentimental at this time, so we'll rely on the words of Slate.com's John Swansburg:
"I'm not denying the pleasures of spending an afternoon shelling sunflower seeds and watching the Brewers take on the Pirates - on the contrary. My problem is more with the games that promise to be momentous and prove otherwise. Every week, there seems to be a game of the century - a playoff opener, a clash of rivals, a prodigal son returning home. As a sports fan in good standing, I'm obliged to watch. But too frequently, such games fail to deliver on the hype."
Swansburg is speaking of why he stopped watching sports. We haven't given up sport. We simply don't see the need for another obligation to creep into our leisure time. It's enough for us to pile the food and spirits into the car before dawn on six or seven Saturdays a year, drive down to Historic Grant Field at Bobby Dodd Stadium and watch our Jackets. They may not be the champions of the world, but they are the champions of Bobby Dodd Stadium, and late on an early Autumn Saturday, that feels pretty good.
Sport is competitive , but ephemeral. It is an art form that lives in the moment. We watch sport for the moment. The moment doesn't mean any more or any less if some one makes a note of it in a book of records. It was, and we loved it, and now its gone. Let it be gone.