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
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