Everything seems to be much louder today than at any other time in the past. The overwhelming cacophony of news and opinion is powered by the ubiquity of smartphones, the bias of every form of media, and the seeming inability of most people to closely consider an opinion before spewing it forth into the world. We are all guilty. Each of us wonders when our day of internet shaming and accusation will come. We have watched people lose job and livelihood based on an ill-conceived tweet or Facebook post. Our outrage culture is, hopefully, at its apex. It is itself, oddly enough, a reason for outrage.
When everything from the president to a joke made in a six-minute spot at a local comedy club can spark worldwide outrage, the natural instinct is to look for a safe haven. This is different from a so-called “safe space”, where unpleasant thoughts are not allowed to enter. Rather, a safe haven is a place where we know that we can enjoy ourselves with reckless abandon. For some people, a safe haven comes in a music festival or a night out at a bar. But for millions of others, this safe haven comes with the first kickoff of college football season.
There just seems to be something special about college football. Obviously, it’s not objectively better than any other form of entertainment. All show is subjective. But college football satisfies a need that so many of us have, but for some reason cannot explain. College football doesn’t judge you as a person. It judges you based on your allegiance. But thousands of people are there to swarm around you and affirm that allegiance. Does your team suck this year? That’s fine. You can pack into a stadium with thousands of other rabid fans. You can lie to each other and say that you’re definitely going to the playoffs this year. It’s great.
You’ll hear people yelling obscenities around you, and you won’t stop to critically analyze each one. People won’t be waiting for a particular slur or slip-up to set off an internal alarm. No one knows who you are when you’re rooting for your alma mater. You are just that: Your alma mater. You become one unit praying for one outcome. It’s a quasi-religious experience. I cannot explain why college football is different than NFL football. It likely has something to do with our recollection of our college years. Those years were a beautiful time for many of us, and college football allows us to live our nostalgia in a very real way.
In any event, it is a true escape. Politics can’t get us when we’re holding our breath on 4th and short. So sit back, root for your team this season, and take some time off from the grind that has become everyday life in 2017.