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Football Games and Grits: Two Things You Can't Beat

The Vent

By W. STEPHEN Venable

I'm still in shock.

The Sports illustrated I get in my Harvard mail box each week is missing the Football South supplement section.

It's been three months since my SI subscription was changed from my home in beautiful Stone Mountain, Georgia, to my new address in the Harvard Yard Mail Center.

But, I'm still in shock.

I know I moved from one geographic region to another, but SI didn't have to take out the Football South supplement in their magazine, did they?

What am I complaining about, you ask?

It's not to knock northern sports, but to put it in a phrase I used many times this fall, "There just ain't nothin' like a Friday night or Saturday afternoon in Georgia."

That's right, there ain't nothin' like it.

I know the Patriots were vastly improved and even kind of exciting this fall.

I know the thrill of Harvard hockey is hard to beat anywhere.

Heck, we've even got a dynasty above all dynasties here with the Harvard squash program.

Despite this, my fall weekends this semester at Harvard were still missing something--FOOTBALL SOUTH.

It's something that words can hardly explain. But, let me try and take you through the aura that is Football South.

Imagine this. It's Friday night about 7:30. The stadium lights are shining on hundreds of fields across the south. The bands are filling the evening sky with fight songs, the players are full of butterflies and the thousands of fans are packing into the bleachers to cheer their sons, classmates, students or friends.

It's quite a feeling, and there is just nothing like it.

Now it is Saturday afternoon. The parking lot is full with tail-gaters, some grilling steaks, frying fish or even eating grits.

Soon, the 80,000 fans finish the pre-game festivities and begin streaming into a large stadium--maybe in Athens, Ga., Auburn, Ala. or Clemson, S.C.--to continue the weekend's religious ceremonies.

Grown men bark, short and make like gators. The women at their sides grow hoarse outscreaming their husbands.

Down on the field, young men play their hearts out to the screams from above.

Again, it's Football South, a sight that can not be best.

In its course, football in the south can't help but to bring communities together--even high school teams bring out the best in their fans.

Incidentally, the high school where my dad coaches, Tucker--the Tucker Tigers--had more fans per game this year than did almost all Ivy League schools, save Penn.

The little town of Tucker, Ga., was transformed as the Tigers marched to a perfect regular season and into the state semi-finals before losing in overtime.

The streets were painted with maroon and gold tiger paws, and all of the local businesses wished the team well in their window signs.

It was truly a special thing to be a part of.

For the next three years, I'm going to have to live Football South via scores on the Internet and reports I get from my parents.

I don't know, but my guess is the Harvard education I get will be worth the four football seasons I miss.

Still every Friday and Saturday in the fall, my heart will be back down in Georgia cheering for the Jackets--that's Georgia Tech--and the Tigers, being a part of Football South.

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