Is what a friend of mine asked of me, not a little sarcastically, when I told him I was going to my first football game ever this afternoon.
All the new faculty got free tickets and seats in the box for the first two games of the season, so a bunch of us who know nothing about football and could not be even called football enthusiasts, let alone fans, decided to go because it was an event.
As for the game, from what I'm told it was pretty awful, we were playing pretty badly. In the end we won, but just barely
But that was not what shocked me about this football game. No, what shocked me about the football game, and I'm sure it shouldn't have shocked me, I should have been ready for it, was the powerful connection to the military out on the field. This was due, in some part, to it being "Hero Day," but I'm not sure whether it's actually "Hero Day" anywhere else.
In any case, there was a lot of standing and saluting the troops and saluting god, and praying for the brave men and women overseas. Which didn't bother me. Until halftime. When about eight teenaged boys and girls stood on the field in matching US Army tee-shirts and were sworn in to the US Army by four men in camouflage fatigues. The swearing in ended with a Christian prayer. Then they walked off the field, leaving every new faculty member sitting in the box speechless.
I happened to be sitting with two colleagues who went to grad school in my home town, a nice college town with a fairly large football team and a stadium about 100 yards from my parents house. I asked them if anything like this happened at football games in Large Midwestern City. They said no. And they also said that people don't get dressed up for football games in the Midwest either. People really got dressed up, I mean in formal 1950s style strapless sundresses and high heels. Lily Pullitzer is alive and well in the South.
The whole experience felt a little surreal. Like we had all been transported back to some imagined 1950s place that never really existed in the *real* 1950s.
So do I tear up when I salute the flag? Only because I'm a little scared of the South, right now.