College football's games within the game
August, 31, 2012
By DJ Gallo | ESPN.com
Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesThese Florida State fans are probably really good at the eight football fan sports.College football season is upon us. While we’re all excited to cheer for the great athletes on the field, don’t forget that being a college football fan automatically makes you an accomplished athlete of your own. The average fan takes part in no less than eight sports through the course of a normal game day.
Game Traffic Fighting
This is no less a competitive endeavor than NASCAR, just at a slower speed, and the sport of Game Traffic Fighting requires as much game-planning as any football coach does leading up to kickoff. When do we have to leave to beat traffic? Is that too early? Do we really want to be there that early? Is there a shortcut or better route we can take? Do we need gas? Are we eating in the car? Are there any speed traps we need to avoid? Are we listening to my iPod or pregame radio? Where is the best place to park?
The action really heats up during the final, slow crawl into the parking lot. Cutting off a car here, coasting through a yellow light turning red there, ignoring a traffic cop. It all adds up, getting you into a parking spot a whole minute or two earlier than if you obeyed every driving law to the letter. Congratulations! You won Game Traffic Fighting!
Scott Boehm/Getty ImagesTailgating: We do it for the love of the food, not for the endorsements.
Joey Chestnut and Kobayashi wouldn’t stand out at a typical college football tailgate. Hot dogs, hamburgers, chili, chips, dips, those weird brownies your friend Steve always brings – hour after hour they are shoveled into the mouths of tens of thousands of football fans. We don’t do it for a shot at a big four-figure payout from some sponsor, either. No, we do it for the love of the game/food. Also of beer.
Rhythmic gymnastics is in the Olympics but not cornhole. Ridiculous. It’s illogical. Infuriating. But that’s a discussion for another day. Probably when you next eat Steve’s brownies.
The point is this: lobbing a beanbag full of corn through a small hole in a piece of plywood 30 feet away requires no less touch or accuracy than Matt Barkley throwing the ball up for Robert Woods in the corner of the end zone. Yet where is our Cornhole Heisman buzz? Why is no one interviewing us? Sometimes you have to wonder about America’s priorities.
Same deal here. Touch and accuracy – but with the added disregard for your personal health that would stop any football or hockey player in his tracks. That ping pong ball that just rolled across the ground and up against that car tire? Yeah, now it’s in my cup and now I’m drinking out of my cup. Big deal. I laugh in the face of bacterial infections.
OK. It’s time to go into the game and get to your seat. Chances are your seat is in the upper deck. That means a series or ramps and steps that feels akin to climbing Everest – especially with 15 pounds of additional food weight and impaired balance. Factor in wheezing and growing nausea and Stadium Climbing is one of our great endurance sports. But there’s no rest for the weary. Now you have to stand up for five minutes through the national anthem and kickoff. Your stamina is amazing. You’re a modern-day Lance Armstrong. And you do this on nothing but hot dogs and beer.
Streeter Lecka/Getty ImagesThe dedication. The determination. Cornhole is the parking-lot sport of champions.
Up, down, up, down, up, down. The better your team is, the more squats you get in by jumping up and down to cheer them. Oh, this totally counts as your workout for the day. Squats are one of the best exercises you can do. Now time for some upper body. Oh, yeah. One set of high-fives with the four fans around you. Feel the burn.
Uh-oh. Time to go to the bathroom. Sense the game situation. There. There’s a break in the action. First you race down the steps out of your section. What speed. Then it’s about vision and spotting the nearest facility. Boom. There it is. Now you cut and weave through other fans like Denard Robinson through a defense. And finally you’re there. To the bathroom line. What’s this, like a 10-minute wait? Uh-oh. Here’s where the core strength comes in. You need to work those abs to make sure nothing comes out. But it’s mental as much as physical. You must NOT allow yourself to pee your pants in public. Dig deep. Everything is on the line here. All that you’ve worked for. Your entire reputation. If you pee your pants in public, it’s all over. You’ll have to move and get all new friends. Because they’ll never let you live this down. Nor should they. Ohmigod ohmigod ohmigod. Hurry up!
Whew! You made it! Sweet relief. But with that relief comes clarity and a realization of your surroundings. Sweet mercy. This bathroom is a hellscape. Clogged toilets. Wet floors. Toilet paper rolls strewn about the floor. No paper towels. Filthy trash cans. Even filthier language. We all hear stories about the supposedly awful things that go on at the bottom of a football pile during a scrum for a fumble. And we laugh. Because nothing that happens there on the field is nearly as horrific as what goes on in the stadium bathrooms not far from the field of play.
There they are. The eight football fan sports. While we respect what the football players do on the field, we all know the greatest athletes are the people in the stands.