Today is the day. Again. Another Saturday, where I am expected to be peppy and cheerful. Instead here I am glaring at my celling, wishing that my friends were more like me. That is, not a football fan. Sliding out of bed, I hope that my legs would just give out beneath me so that I have a legitimate excuse not to venture out into the sticky September heat of Tallahassee. Alas, my legs remain fully functional and thus propel me through my morning routine. Looking in the mirror I am a vision in garnet and gold, my tank top proclaiming that I am in fact a “Proud Nole”, when in reality, I feel more like a wet napkin that at the slightest touch would rip and tear.
It is hardly ten in the morning and already the traffic is slow moving as I head south on Monroe Street. I imagine that the people sitting in traffic with me will still be in my general vicinity for the next few hours. It is Saturday during football season after all. Nearly everyone in Tallahassee along with their out of town second cousin twice removed were going to be scattered about the FSU campus and packed within Doak Campbell Stadium in all its red brick, steel beam, glory.
Surviving the horror that was traffic, I make it thankfully to a friend’s apartment complex close to campus. Here I get to avoid insane parking prices or the possibility of getting towed. My friend lives close enough to the stadium, so already I can hear the roar of crowds and the vibrations induced by our school band, the infamous Marching Chiefs. Just imagining hundreds of bodies pressed together on the bleachers that might as well be a skillet set to 400 degrees, makes me nauseous.
“FSU! FSU! FSU!” screams a gold painted passenger from a too large truck as it passes me in my friend’s parking lot. I give a fake smile and a halfhearted wave at his enthusiastic display. An already small apartment is made even smaller by almost two dozen FSU fans, a few red faced from alcohol even though it isn’t even noon yet. Another colleges’ game plays on my friends’ obscenely large television, people cheer from time to time. Everyone has an air of excitement around them. For a second something like school spirit overcomes me and my smile becomes genuine and I give people pats on the backs, which is uncharacteristic of me.
The high of excitement doesn’t last long after hearing a few inappropriate slurs about the cheerleaders from the opposing team. These people I consider my friends aren’t usually like this. Not so rowdy and obnoxious. There is something about football season that brings out the animal in people, especially FSU students. Parties from other units from the apartment complex flow into ours and ours flow into others. Though I am not a fan of being in cramped courters with a bunch of loud drunks, I have to admit it is amazing how strangers can come together and be best friends, if only for a few hours.
Having formed a herd of friends and fellow Noles, we head towards the stadium. I hang back from my group and just take in the other groups of people we pass. To our left a throng of girls in identical white shorts and matching gold shirts squeal, vying for the attention of guys in too tight pastel colored shorts covering legs that have missed a few “leg days”. To our right an unlikely group of what appear to be hippies relax on mats surrounding coolers filled with some kind of organic beer, their FSU shirts torn and braided with hemp rope to suit their individual style.
Before we even make it to the stadium I am covered in a sheen of sweat. I know I’ll be drenched by the time the game is over, the thought making me grimace. After waiting in line for what felt like five hours, I finally make it into the stadium. I can barely hear my own thoughts, sound is just a ringing in my ears, when someone tries to talk to me it is just a buzz I hear. It is a miracle, I think to myself, that the stadium doesn’t just come crashing down with the amount of movement going on inside. Where before I felt vibrations, now I feel as though I have been swept up in a tornado.
“Has anyone ever died of overstimulation?” I manage to joke with a friend. They give me a serious look and say “All the time”. He walks away and I just follow, not at all encouraged by his words. Climbing one step, then another, and another, my legs are pushed to their limit as we try and find seats in the sea of underclassmen with their too eager faces. Everyone is standing though. After all that walking and climbing, I was expected to stand! My nerves were reaching their limit. It was too hot, too crowded, too loud. It was all just so much and none of it worth it given that I don’t even like football!
The game begins. I have no idea what’s going on. I just know that that feeling of excitement from earlier is creeping back in. When the people around me cheer, I cheer too. When our war chant comes on, I chant along. When it’s time to do the wave, I am a part of that wave. It is as though my fellow Noles and I are one. Thousands of people are gathered in Doak Campbell Stadium, and like a battery their energy gives me strength that not only gets me through the nearly four hours of football, but also makes me have the time of my life.
Like me, you don’t have to be a football fan to enjoy this season. You would however benefit from being a part of that football spirit. Being a part of something, anything is life. We might as well be a part of one of America’s favorite pastimes. Especially if you are a Florida State Seminole, we tend to win.
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