This is something I’ve been pondering for a while as the Jacksonville debate continues on seemingly forever. How do I put my finger on what makes the Cocktail Party worth saving, purely from a fan’s perspective?
I think I know.
I wrote this a while back:
It’s community. It’s being part of a group of people who bind together, both face to face on a few special Saturdays every fall and by sharing something of themselves in a virtual sense the rest of the year, over a common passion. You know the pain and pleasure, the highs and lows that everyone feels, even if those sometimes are expressed very differently.
I’ve been lucky in both ways. I’ve celebrated the fall with a close group of friends for more than thirty years now. We’ve watched each other get older, seen our kids grow up, had our laughs and our share of tears. And on the blogging side of things, I’ve been the recipient of a steady stream of e-mails that start with something like “I’ve been a long time reader of your blog and wanted to share this with you”… and then they do. And I honestly marvel every time I see that how this shared experience matters.
For me, one of the unalloyed joys of the college football experience is its social value. While tailgating isn’t a totally alien experience with other sports, it’s certainly true that it doesn’t occur at anywhere near the same level that it does with this sport. There’s a uniqueness to that I cherish. If you want to know why I still cling to college football the way I do, warts and all, it’s in large part because of this shared sense of community.
The Georgia-Florida game ushers in the longest tailgate of the college football regular season. How many fans across the country can say they enjoy something like that? I don’t wish to be robbed of it. Move the game home-and-home and we lose a lot in that regard. Play the game in Atlanta? Have you ever tried to tailgate by MBS or the Dome? Good luck with accommodating 70,000 fans who want that.
Again, I know that my personal feelings mean absolutely zilch when it comes to the game’s fate. But if you want to know why I have so much emotionally invested in keeping one of college football’s jewels in its current setting, it’s this.