The team spirit of college football

Sep. 28, 2013 @ 06:06 PM

Twice this week on my morning commute I heard “Enter Sandman” on the radio, the Metallica song I would dislike if the intro wasn’t played at the start of Virginia Tech Hokies games to get the crowd jumping.
The existential powers of college football were reminding me to get excited about college football season. I hadn’t planned to go to a game this season, but the force of fall football is strong, and drew me in. I’ll be in Blacksburg next month for a game.
And by the time you read this, I will have made my first visit to Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, which will also be the first time I’ve been to an N.C. State game. We’re going with relatives, and to blend in with the Wolfpack (they’re playing Central Michigan, so we’re obviously rooting for the ACC team) I’m digging out my few items of red clothing.
I’ll have to push past the light blue in my closet, including some UNC shirts I’ve gained because my sister is an alumna. I’m smart enough not to wear those to a State game. Eight years in the Triangle, and I don’t have a local allegiance to declare, though I’ve certainly thought about it. I wrote a column years ago talking about it, and still like State, Carolina and Duke about the same. Yes, yes, very scandalous, I know.
One day, disposable income willing, I’ll have season tickets and car magnets and a flag to fly from the car window. My mom found a VT flag on the road once, and gave it to me. We put it on our car, where it promptly blew off on the interstate, its need for freedom greater than its need for fan display. Or maybe the plastic was cracked. One of the two.
Here at the newspaper, readers look for reasons to assume the newsroom must be full of Duke alumni, or UNC alumni. Any photo or headline of one team that is slightly larger than the other may prompt reader ire. The truth is that the newsroom includes both Duke and UNC alumni, and N.C. Central University alumni, too, and East Carolina University. And this here Hokie, because it wouldn’t be fair not to include other ACC schools. There’s a University of Florida alum, too, and others. Now that that’s settled, let’s talk about how football is more than quarterback sacks and first downs. Many of us in the stands watch each play, and many of us don’t. Oh, we want our team to win, but we’re having fun anyway. That goes for tailgating in the parking lot before the games, whether you’re eating wings or playing bean bag toss. (I refuse to call bean bag toss “corn hole.”)
If all you have to complain about in life is that your team didn’t win, then it must be Thanksgiving every day at your house. Sports are an opportunity to go have fun with people you like, and if your team wins, well that’s great, too. Go … team!
Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan may be reached at or 919-419-6563.