Racial strife in Missouri, beheaded American journalists in the Middle East, a crisis on our southern border, the Ebola virus spreading like wildfire, Robin Williams’ suicide, Ice Bucket Challenges, presidential scandals du jour - in the Information Overload Age, it’s enough to make your head swim.
Who couldn’t use a diversion?
Maybe your beloved baseball team is already mathematically eliminated from the post-season and October’s not even really in sight yet, so you’ve tucked that rally cap back and placed it on the shelf for the rest of the year.
The basketball season has been over (mercifully) for a couple of months - and hockey, too. Uh, when is hockey season anyway?
The World Cup provided some entertainment for sports junkies and the culture curious for a few weeks this summer, but soccer will fade back into its niche until another four years.
What’s an armchair quarterback to do in the waning days of summer? Hell, must-see-TV in general is in a lull as “Breaking Bad” and “True Blood” are no more and new seasons of “The Walking Dead,” “Game of Thrones” and “Scandal” are a ways off.
While our nation sits on the precipice of yet another war (or two, or three) - there’s another battle brewing, pitting man against man, front line vs. front line, aggression, sneak attacks, bombs, the quest to invade enemy territory.
Yes indeed, it is once again football season - with high school, college and pro gridiron games filling up our social calendars and TV-viewing plans.
And let’s face it, we love some war. And football, basically, is war - a tactical scrum, a battle in the trenches, if you will.
There will be blood.
“There is a long tradition of likening football to war, from paeans to the "generalship" of quarterbacks in the 1890s to the "wars in the trenches" of the modern game,” wrote Michael Oriard, in a 2009 article for online magazine Slate.com. “While coaches and sportswriters have adopted military language over the years, the military has sometimes adopted football terminology, as in Operation Goalpost and Operation Varsity in World War II and Vietnam's Operation Linebacker.”
Well buck up there, Sgt. Beach Bum, you can claim boredom no more as college football gets an official kick in the too-tight pants tonight with a full slate of televised games (including the South Carolina Gamecocks vs. Texas A&M), as well as Friday night and Saturday, too, and the big boys of the NFL finish out one more week of pre-season before strapping it on in earnest with Sept. 4’s match-up of defending Super Bowl champs, the Seattle Seahawks, and the tradition-laden Green Bay Packers. Locally, it’s Friday Night Lights as high school action gets into the swing of things, and our clawin’ Chanticleers of Conway, aka Coastal Carolina University, gets its 2014-15 campaign started with an in-state contest against The Citadel on Saturday.
In order to get you pumped up for another pulsating plethora of pigskin, we’ve huddled up and put our heads together - and also reached out to readers and the social media stratosphere - to compile the following list of reasons why we’re glad, thankful, appreciative, stoked, etc. that once again, the referee’s whistle signifies that it’s football season - the way God intended.
With the 49th Super Bowl slated for Feb. 1 on the horizon, we’ve drummed up 49 reasons why, in no particular order, the 2014-15 football season is a godsend.
Now get out there and execute the game plan!
1. The Visor, the Ol’ Ballcoach, whatever you want to call him, University of South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier is a human sound-byte. And depending upon your stripes, you may think he’s a dick, or rather a cock, but he’s an entertaining cock, and livens up the proceedings, even when his Gamecocks are taking on powderpuffs such as the Alabama School for the Blind.
2. Cheerleaders - who doesn’t enjoy the TV cameras constantly panning over to the sidelines for some well-timed upskirt shots? The cheerleader unis get skimpier, and the Hi-Def cameras get zoomier. We’ve got spirit, yes, yes, we do. For equal opportunity, the college game also sports buffed male cheerleaders, if you’re into that kind of thing.
3. Because local sports bars prosper when football is blasted on multiple TV screens and hungry and thirsty patrons flock to support their teams - and the key to a healthy Grand Strand economy is a robust service industry.
4. We don’t have to hear about that other “futbol” anymore - when we say “football,” we mean “football.”
5. ESPN’s new SEC Network is available locally, including on homegrown cable provider HTC Digital Cable Plus, in standard definition on Channel 73 and in Hi-Def on Channel 873.
6. Expanding TV coverage for smaller universities and colleges, including six of CCU’s regular season games that will be televised by the American Sports Network and ESPN3.
7. Thankful for Thanksgiving, which if you’re a football fan has meant since the beginning of time, Dallas and Detroit. But these days, it means more than games in Motown and the Big D while you carve and devour your turkey as a third, prime time match-up has been added on the Day of Thanks. So you can avoid the inevitable family meltdown over the dinner table as the Chicago Bears take on the Detroit Lions at 12:30 p.m. Nov. 27, followed by the Philadelphia Eagles vs. the Dallas Cowboys at 4:30 p.m. and Seattle travels to San Francisco to take on the 49ers at 8:30 p.m.
8. Thirsty-For-Blood Thursday - It’s hard to make it through the week in the best of times, so even though the NFL throws us a bone on Monday nights, and college games are increasingly scheduled mid-week, the era of the NFL’s Thursday night games has been spotty with these contests sequestered on the not-so-widely available NFL Network in recent times. But this season you’ll actually get to see these Thursday night battles on local CBS affiliate, WBTW, starting with a grudge match between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens on Sept. 11.
9. “Wings and beer are universally accepted as Sunday dinner...every Sunday.” - Martha Spencer, WBTW meteorologist and New England Patriots fan.
10. “It coincides perfectly with the tourists' exodus and replaces the summer-long locals singular emotion of road rage with socially acceptable forms of violence.” - Leila Rogers, Sociology Professor at Horry-Georgetown Technical College, and a Dallas Cowboys fan.
11. Because it’s personal. “Here, because we're a southern town, college football is personal ... sometimes pitting neighbor against neighbor, co-worker against co-worker or relatives against one another for division or conference or annual rivalry game supremacy. Because we're also a target for transplants, pro football is much more passionately followed by our Rust Belt residents, so they're pitted against one another ... again, neighbor to neighbor, sometimes within their family or offices, for bragging rights. This doesn't play out just anywhere; Savannah (Ga.) might be a college football haven, but not so much a pro football hotbed. New York is all about the Jets and the Giants, but it takes a lot to get New Yorkers excited about any college football game. In Myrtle Beach, every Saturday, then every Sunday, has meaning.” - Ron Roberts, program director for Mix 97.7, WWXM-FM, and a University of Georgia and Atlanta Falcons fan.
12. “I look forward to cheering on my Gamecocks; win, lose or draw, as I have since a very young age, and to enjoy the spirit and friendship that comes with it. My Clemson friends do the same, although for the past five years some of them have been acting really pithy after the end of the season.” - Weekly Surge contributor Brian Howle.
13. Down, set, snark! “The other thing that really gets me excited about football season is looking forward to my Facebook timeline and Twitter feed being filled up by people letting us all know, as it's happening, every single one of their feelings about each and every play.” - Brian Roesseler, Myrtle Beach musician.
14. Loyalty. “Football is the greatest sport! On the surface, you have the ferocity and violence. Once you go beyond that, you begin to understand that it's a chess match, but each team has a unique set of pieces. Every week is a completely different challenge for your team. To really feel it, you have to pick a team and stay with them. Win or lose. That makes it personal, connects you to the other fans, and makes it especially great when they win.” - Gordon McCawley, Interactive Director at Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday and an Indianapolis Colts fan.
15. Sophomoric behavior condoned. “College football season is the time of year when it is completely acceptable for adults to: be drunk before noon on a Saturday, text spiteful messages to good friends who went to rival colleges, scream dark and ancient obscenities at refs who blow calls (even if you're watching the game on television), buy a large nugget tray from Chick-Fil-A for a tailgate with the full intention of finishing at least a fifth of it on your own, hold hands with your best dude friend when it's fourth-and-one on the goal line, kiss your girl when they score (unless you're playing her team and they're the ones to score), and generally act like you never graduated.” - Weekly Surge contributor Andrew Davis, and Clemson fan.
16. Trash Talk. “Trash talking in sports pretty much ends after March Madness. Some might comment on the NBA playoffs or a baseball game every so often, but those are few and far between. Every August, the chatter starts up when the countdown to kick-off is in sight. Football season marks the beginning of trash talk season. It is great fun and quite comical to hear what people say about other teams after taking a few months off to stock up on their insult inventory.” - Weekly Surge contributor Kevin Hoover.
17. Because three NFL regular season games are to be played at London’s Wembley Stadium, which undoutably will be an excuse to play The Clash’s “London Calling” repeatedly on the air - and that’s a great thing.
18. Because early Dirty Birds will get the guava worm: The Atlanta Falcons-Detroit Lions game on Oct. 26 in London will be at 9:30 a.m. EST. Nothing like starting your Sunday morning with biscuits, eggs, coffee and pigskin. There’ll probably be some empty church pews in the ATL that day.
19. The Moglia Method - the shock of dismissing the program’s founding coach, David Bennett, is starting to sting less with the success of his successor, Joe Moglia, who had no head college coaching experience before getting the gig, and implementing a scoffed at business-like approach from his days as CEO of TD Ameritrade. After he guided the Chants to NCAA Division 1 FCS quarterfinals last year, nobody’s scoffing now. Moglia may replace that dude in the Dos Equis commercials as the World’s Most Interesting Man - or at least the Grand Strand’s.
20. Bringing back the feelings of home - if you’re a transplant to the Grand Strand, rooting for your hometown Ohio State Buckeyes or Cleveland Browns, surrounded by like-minded friends makes you feel like you’ve found a home away from your original home.
21. Road trippin’ - there’s nothing like packing up your tailgating gear and hitting the road to follow your team and the sense of adventure - a pastime for many Gamecock fans who make the trek to Columbia religiously, and even for local Carolina Panthers fans, getting to and from Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C. is a mere day trip. And for CCU faithful, there’s easy-to-drive-to road games in Charleston, Greenville, Clinton, Charlotte and Boiling Springs, N.C.
22. Fantasy Island - once badmouthed by the NFL, fantasy football is now an ingrained part of the culture, and has brought the nerd factor into the game as stat geeks go ape shit over calculating the values of Player A vs. Player B., and online automation has made it easy and simple for even the least engaged simpleton to field a team and try to win the office pool. Why else would you watch a blow out game in December between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Buffalo Bills?
23. “Because it's the only time of year I watch TV.” Weekly Surge contributor Mandy Rodgers.
24. Because if you couldn’t give two shits about football, there’s more freedom to roam your favorite places around the Grand Strand on Sundays - provided your favorite places aren’t sports bars.
25. “Because it's a reason to drink. Team wins, you drink. Team loses, you drink.” - Weekly Surge contributor Mandy Rodgers.
26. Because everyone will get to bitch about the half-time entertainment at the Super Bowl.
27. Rooting for the underdog - “When I was eight-years-old, I watched “Monday Night Football” with my Granddaddy, a die-hard Washington Redskins’ fan. But that Monday, the Los Angeles Rams were playing the New Orleans Saints. The Rams were creaming the Saints. But every time the Saints got the ball, my Granddaddy cheered. When I asked him why he was pulling for the Saints, he said, “Because son, you should always pull for the underdog, and in the NFL, there’s no bigger underdog than the Saints.” I’ve been a Saints fan ever since, 33 years – through more losing seasons than I want to count. But I’ve also watched playoff wins. I’ve watched the team help rebuild after Hurricane Katrina. Even the Super Bowl victory in 2009 felt more like a Purple Heart, than a trophy. After that, I watched the disgrace of Bounty-Gate. But each new season gives a new reason and chance for the underdogs to win it all.” - Weekly Surge contributor Derrick Bracey.
28. The opportunity to be politically incorrect - Redskins, Redskins, Redskins. See? We said it.
29. The opportunity to ponder why the Kansas City Chiefs’ name and logo isn’t offensive?
30. The hope that Johnny Manziel is bestowed with humility.
31. Because, ding-dong, the BCS is dead. It’s not a real playoff format, like EVERY OTHER SPORT AT EVERY LEVEL OF NCAA PLAY, but NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision is getting a four-team playoff this season to determine its champion. It’s a start in the right direction.
32. Aspirations of championships - expectations are high for both of the Palmetto State’s pigskin powerhouses as South Carolina is ranked no. 9 and Clemson no. 16 in both the AP and USA Today preseason polls. Likewise, they can smell the championship rings at CCU, as Coach Moglia’s squad is ranked 6th in the preseason NCAA poll.
33. “Because of the adorable way my toddler says "Go Steelers!" - Weekly Surge contributor Mandy Rodgers.
34. “College or pro football can not only be a source of fun for a devoted fan, but something that helps them get through the toughest times. When my father was seriously ill in the winter of 2008-09, watching the weekly Steelers games and their march to the Super Bowl was a real pick-me-up for both of us and I think the happiness he got from that season helped him with his recovery. Football is more than just a sport for a lot of us -- it's also a source of treasured family memories.” - Surge contributor Christina Knauss, a Gamecocks and Steelers fan.
35. The opportunity to make fun of Tony Romo, again.
36. An excuse for eating artery-clogging smoked sausages, such as Bratwurst, on Saturday and Sunday game days.
37. The thrill of watching a team try to complete an undefeated season.
38. The sound of the nearby high school’s marching band reverberating in your back yard.
39. Because chilly nights bundled up with your sweetie in the bleachers is not far off.
40. Because we’ve missed the iconic intro music of “NFL Films.”
41. The wonder of which team will have an unexpected catastrophic season.
42. The intrigue of which backup quarterback will get promoted to starter status, designating the other guy to clipboard holder.
43. The suspense of waiting to see which Baltimore Ravens player will be the next to run afoul of the law.
44. Anticipating the outrage when openly gay St. Louis Rams player Michael Sam slaps his teammate on the ass for the first time after a good play.
45. Becaue Tim Tebow is an unsigned free agent.
46. Because we like to say, “Dabo.” Dabo...Dabo, Dabo, Dabo.
47. Because of the new aforementioned four-team playoff in college football, strength of schedule will come more into play, so it should mean less of the cream puff games many powerhouses schedule for early in the year, or for special occasions, such as homecoming.
48. Because we’re almost to the end of this list, and it was hard, yo.
49. “Because it's football. Enough said.” - Weekly Surge contributor Mandy Rodgers.