Advice for handling anxious Georgia fan spouses this week: It’s not just a game!

(Every now and then the Momania community gets to hear from my dear husband Michael Giarrusso. With Georgia heading to the SEC Championship game (and maybe the National Championship) he felt the need to address the spouses and children of UGA fans.)

By Michael A. Giarrusso

The kids with UGA in 2004 at the journalism school celebration. I think we may have actually gone to the game that year.

Michael and the kids with Uga. (Not sure which one this is -- probably 2004.)

An open letter to the spouses, children, parents and boyfriends/girlfriends of anxious Georgia fans:

Georgia fans are closer to a national championship than they have been in more than 30 years. The only things that stand in the way are the two most successful programs in college football. That’s going to make some fans nervous, especially after three decades of the Bulldogs disappointing them. Your loved ones may need some support as they try to focus on work and family while fantasizing about an unlikely win over Alabama and a trip to south Florida for the national title game against Notre Dame.

Here are some tips:

  • Don’t say “It’s just a game.”: It is not just another game. Georgia has played about 350 games since the last time they had a chance for a national championship. Beating Georgia Southern is just another game. Beating Alabama would be something fans remember forever. Losing would leave a wound that never heals. Ask me about scars from Florida 2002 (David Pollack called for a forward lateral), Georgia Tech 1999 (Jasper Sanks was down), Florida 1993 (who called timeout?) Tennessee 1992 (Heath Shuler 4th and 14),  and many more.
  • Don’t say, “There is always next year.”: This isn’t like the NFL where Matt Ryan could be a successful quarterback for the Falcons for 10 years. Most of Georgia’s players will graduate or leave school early for the NFL, and next year’s team will be completely different. If Georgia doesn’t make it happen this year, it may be another generation before the Bulldogs have this chance again.
  • Don’t say, “I don’t know why you’d get so excited about a game you’re not even involved in.”: Non-sports fans say this all the time, and it drives me crazy. Sports is what we care about, and particularly the team from our school and our state. You might think that is stupid, but I think it’s stupid to get excited about Justin Bieber, American Girl dolls,  “The Bachelor,” the launch of the newest Apple product, politics, hunting season, a new video game, another Rolling Stones tour or many other things that other Americans are obsessive about. I choose to be obsessive about college football.
  • Don’t say, “Take it easy. Look how calm Coach Richt looks.”: Richt looks calm whether Georgia is winning by 30 or losing by 30. He looked calm when his team was 6-7 as he does now that his team is 11-1. Most fans love Richt and we appreciate his stoic approach 90 percent of the time. Sometimes, however, we’d love to see him scream at a referee like Will Muschamp or throw his visor in frustration like Steve Spurrier.
  • Don’t underestimate regional pride: Most of us grew up in Georgia. And even if our football dreams ended after our 10-year-old Pop Warner season, we take some pride that our state and town produces great players. As we get older, we’ll follow our friend’s son who made the team, our daughter’s high school classmate who now plays for Georgia or our former fraternity brother who is now an assistant coach. When those guys win, we feel validated that Georgia produces players who can compete at the highest level. Lewis Grizzard once explained how college football was a chance for Southerners to compete in his column “us  vs. them.”

I know it won’t change my life if Georgia wins or loses. I also know that it doesn’t make sense to let my happiness be determined by a bunch of 20-year-old men chasing a pigskin around a field. But when Georgia is playing well, I can turn on the TV or head to Athens for three hours of escapism. I can complain about coaching decisions, referee’s calls or announcers’ bias. And I know that hundreds of thousands of other alumni and fans are doing the same thing. I feel like part of a community (even though I’ve moved thousands of miles away). Depending on the outcome, I can feel communal joy or pain.

So give us insane fans a break this week. We’re having nightmares about Nick Saban and his army of crimson-clad future NFL stars. We’re nervous about Aaron Murray turnovers or silly penalties. Wish us good luck, and tell us it will be OK no matter what happens.

More articles about UGA football and families from Theresa and Michael Giarrusso

Saturdays in Athens not too kid friendly

Why I don’t bring my wife to UGA football games

33 comments Add your comment

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Buckeye

November 26th, 2012
6:32 am

tom brown?

tom brown?

catlady

November 26th, 2012
6:38 am

If you don’t share your spouse’s fervor GO VISIT YOUR FAMILY FOR THE NEXT 2 WEEKS! Two week? Yes, the run up to the game, and the afterward.

Fuddy

November 26th, 2012
6:51 am

Basically, I am an intense fan of sports, but I am able to detach from the insane tendency of just rooting for any given team out of habit. And I’ll never understand why so many smart people refuse to think critically about sports.

Lola

November 26th, 2012
6:59 am

In *this* house, it’s the wife and kids who are the rabid fans. So while I realize this article says “spouses,” I just want to be sure we realize it’s not all men who are the anxious ones. The husband is a bigger fan of the tailgate part.

jarvis

November 26th, 2012
7:04 am

BJ’s….plenty of them.

Jeff

November 26th, 2012
7:38 am

Jarvis, I was about to politely suggest there are “activities” that are known to cause a man to relax a little afterward.

mike

November 26th, 2012
7:59 am

Kleenex and plenty of them will need to be avaiable on Saturday evening for all the dog fans…..oh well, what’s another 32 years to wait….

Freud

November 26th, 2012
8:00 am

I don’t understand the facination grown men have with 20 something boys playng a game.

steve

November 26th, 2012
8:07 am

I’m going to say it anyway…it is just a game. I have been a sports fan my whole life, but I learned a long time ago that the sun does indeed rise the next day even after my team loses. It is pathetic if you are an adult and your state of happiness is dependent upon what happens in any game. Enjoy the game, but don’t make your life revolve around it.

steve

November 26th, 2012
8:07 am

I’m going to say it anyway…it is just a game. I have been a sports fan my whole life, but I learned a long time ago that the sun does indeed rise the next day even after my team loses. It is pathetic if you are an adult and your state of happiness is dependent upon what happens in any game. Enjoy the game, but don’t make your life revolve around it.

Buzzed

November 26th, 2012
8:09 am

mike (Freud would have a field day with your use of the small ‘m’): No doubt your team isn’t within sniffing difference of the SEC or national c’ship.

Buzzed

November 26th, 2012
8:10 am

And I see Freud showed up while I was writing. Please address the correlation of the use of the small ‘m’ with small body parts.

Voice of Reason

November 26th, 2012
8:21 am

I’m stealing this, and re-wording it for baseball.

I like college football, but I live in the baseball world. And no, I am NOT a Braves fan.

Chaos

November 26th, 2012
8:29 am

@steve

I don’t know what team you follow, they must not do very well, or you just are not as passionate as some. Are you a Cubs fan?

The love of a team is almost like the love of a child. When your child does well, you are proud and you gloat. When your child misbehaves, or doesn’t meet expectations, you completely understand why some animals eat their young.

GeoffDawg

November 26th, 2012
8:34 am

Well stated, Go DAWGS!! GATA!

I could also add that in addition to what you can control, the stars often have to align just right to get this kind of opportunity. In 2002, Georgia went 13-1 and didn’t sniff the title game. In 2007, after Missouri and Pitt lost, Georgia was in position to make it into the top 2 but inexplicably dropped behind LSU in the polls. Now, we control our destiny and the brass ring is only two games away.

steve

November 26th, 2012
8:41 am

@Chaos – I am a Georgia fan and a Braves fan.

Mayhem

November 26th, 2012
8:44 am

HOW ‘BOUT THEM FALCONS??????

Total Concurence

November 26th, 2012
8:53 am

Amen and Amen…

theresa

November 26th, 2012
9:00 am

Specifically chose spouse for headline because it could be the husband or the wife…

mom2alex&max

November 26th, 2012
9:00 am

Well, Michael, I wasn’t a nervous wreck BEFORE, but I am NOW!!

I am a rabid fan, as well as my son. My husband, a UGA grad as well, doesn’t care for college football or any sport really. I try to detach myself during the week and I was doing ok until I read this. ;)

Love UGA

November 26th, 2012
9:18 am

Why does it have to be “an unlikely win over Alabama”??? Georgia has the ability to win, and so-called “fans” like you are a disappointment.

ssidawg

November 26th, 2012
9:21 am

I love this! UGA hasn’t had such a clear path to the national championship in so long. I can’t wait until Saturday night. Go DAWGS!!!!

Phil from Athens

November 26th, 2012
10:13 am

Don’t worry, Saban will have UGA fans turning off the tv before halftime.

Your (insert team here) sucks!

November 26th, 2012
10:17 am

Based solely on the comments so far. Georgia fans and Braves fans have the exact same smug arrogance combined with intolerably blind optimism when it comes to their team.

Phil from Athens

November 26th, 2012
10:23 am

” Georgia fans and Braves fans have the exact same smug arrogance combined with intolerably blind optimism when it comes to their team.”

Pretty much. The only difference is the Braves have been to the championship more than once in 33 years.

Phil from Athens

November 26th, 2012
10:24 am

“UGA hasn’t had such a clear path to the national championship in so long.

Nope, not since Jimmy Carter got his butt kicked.

Mayhem

November 26th, 2012
11:44 am

Since no one has commented in over an hour…NEXT TOPIC PLEASE!!!

motherjanegoose

November 26th, 2012
12:31 pm

@ Mayhem…almost 2 hours now….I was hoping for a recap with TWG on the Disneyland experience. I was in Kissimmee FL all last week. I worked on MTW and then we visited with family on Th and Fr. I was 15 minutes from most any of the parks and we did not go. I do not like random crowds. Even more so when I am paying to be in said crowds. Better to go when the crowds are easier to handle. Just trying to get past that area on Saturday mid day was NUTS. We were not there for Disney.

Becky

November 26th, 2012
12:58 pm

Well, Michael, to me it is just a game..I like football and we watch it on a regular basis..But I don’t go rabid over any sport, neither does the hubby..If he wants to watch it or even go see it live, that’s his choice. I have a TV in the bedroom if I want to watch something else..

Hope that all had a wonderful Thanksgiving..

Denise

November 26th, 2012
1:25 pm

GT Alum here…but for this once I’ll say Go Dawgs!I want Alabama to lose just to shut up my FaceBook friends. :-)

(I am not a rabid fan of Tech or anyone else. I’m just anti-Falcons. That’s as much as I care about football. Geaux Saints!)

FCM

November 26th, 2012
1:51 pm

MG my brother recently relocated to Ohio. He proudly wore his UGA gear all weekend. (And made fun of me–again–for liking the Volunteers). However, because I can understand let me say a heartfelt: Go Dawgs!

Tiffany

November 26th, 2012
3:45 pm

GO DAWGS!!!!!!!!!