It's football time in Tennessee!
I don't know if it's common knowledge outside of the local area, but we enjoy a little football here in the great state of Tennessee. Especially here in a college town like Knoxville, where "the stately walls of old UT rise glorious to the sight" and football is elevated from merely a spectator sport to a fanatical religious fervor.
The first game of the season was Saturday, (not to mention the first game with our newest coach, Lane Kiffin), so every UT fan from the tri-state area converged on our beloved Neyland Stadium to cheer and do the wave and otherwise give our official fanly opinions on everything from the players (defense looks good) to the coaches (too early to tell) to the referees (booooo!).
Of course, being the dedicated social commentator that I am, yours truly was also in attendance, covering the event for Quirky fans who need to know. (All one of you).
I know every fan thinks that their school has the best fans, but it is undisputed proven fact that when it comes to college football, nobody has better fans than the SEC, and of those fans, nobody beats the drive and stamina and pure dedication than the University of Tennessee fan. For example:
The sun is shining, the humidity is high, it's still a bazillion degrees out, and we're all sweating like politicians at a congressional hearing, but we gladly perspire in the sunshine for four hours during game time, because we're UT fans, and that's what we do.
We pack into stadium seats squished tighter than clowns in a clown car; plastered thigh to thigh and shoulder to shoulder with the guy eating nachos on one side and the little kid dribbling hot dog relish down his front on the other, but we're UT fans, and that's what we do.
There have been outbreaks of swine flu all over the campus (even to the point where students are going to class in masks), but swine flu or no, we still eagerly push our way into a stadium with 107,000 seating capacity (and still fill it up), because we're UT fans, and that's what we do.
The official school color (orange) flatters exactly no one and makes us all look like walking Cheetos, (or for us with olive complexions, sickly green-tinged Cheetos), but we are all draped head to toe nonetheless, because we're UT fans, and that's what we do.
We fill up parking lots from miles away in all directions, arriving hours before game time and hiking uphill (both ways) to get to the stadium while lugging seat cushions and binoculars and orange and white shakers like pack mules, but the walking and the hills and the extra 50 pounds of game day luggage do not phase us one bit, because we are UT fans, and that's what we do.
We know that flying those car flags shoot our gas mileage to heck and back, but every car still has them plastered to every window, car roof, and truck bed, proclaiming our school spirit with every flap, because we're UT fans, and that's what we do.
Every man, woman, and child knows all the words to Rocky Top from the moment they can speak until they are gasping out their last breath, and it is an automatic compulsion to join in singing at the first hint of the chorus, no matter if you are at the game, in a bar, or solemnly attending your Uncle Larry's funeral. (Shoot, Uncle Larry's probably singing too from inside his casket). On any given Saturday, you can stand just about anywhere in Knoxville and hear the faint strains of "...home sweet home to meeeee! Good 'ol Rocky Top (wooo!), Rocky Top Tennesseeeeee!" echoing over the hilltops, because we're UT fans, and that's what we do.
We cheer, we stomp, we pump our fists in the air and boo the referees over bad calls. We watch pre-game shows, post game shows, pre-post, and post-pre shows in order to greedily suck in every highlight, every game stat, and every coach's review. We follow the Indianapolis Colts because we still consider Peyton Manning to be one of ours. We start tailgating three days before the game. We hate Florida. Our blood runs orange. And we love every minute of it.
Because we are UT fans, and that's what we do.