Football is back.
As always a new season brings with it hope, faith, and the prospect of your team finally getting over the hump. It also brings with it idiocy, things escalating far too quickly, and people acting like they haven’t been there before.
So, here are some protips to get you through the season unscathed^.
^ Your mileage may vary.
1. Have a damn gameplan
This isn’t amateur hour. Football season is serious business. It’s fun, but it’s also no different than going out anywhere. Know where you’re going and what you’re doing before you leave the house. Take what you need with you. You’re not taking part in a hurricane evacuation drill, nor are you living off the damn land-or the charity of strangers. Taking nothing is as bad as taking everything. Coordinate with your friends, divvy up the work, and being what you say you’re gonna bring. Figure it out beforehand.
2. Act like you’ve been there before
This applies both to both geography and behavior. If you are lost somewhere you shouldn’t be lost because it’s been awhile since you’ve been a student on campus, fake it, lie to people you care about, or keep your head down and keep moving. It is unacceptable for an alum to get lost on campus. Fiction with conviction wins the day. As for the behavior, listen. Your team is probably not playing anyone worthwhile in the first game. Keep that in mind. Going way too strong into game 1 is a recipe for disaster. Take it from someone who knows. Learn from me!
3. Do not under any circumstances become one of the “whoo people”
I get it. People get socially lubricated and turn into ridiculous caricatures of their 7th grade selves. That’s fine. Home games are all about trust and inclusion. That being said, do not break that trust for yourself-or worse, your friend who invited you to meet their friends. Yelling “whoooooo!” at the top of your lungs is a bad look anywhere. It’s like a hillbilly mating call. And while you should never yell it period, that goes double for when you hear someone yell it. Returning a “whoo!” just encourages the other idiot to do it again. Don’t perpetuate this problem, don’t be part of the “whoo people.”
4. Know when the game starts
I have two reasons for this one. I may be giving you guys too little credit but I stand by this advice. Tailgating is fun, so fun that you may do it a little too long and miss kickoff. It happens. To everyone. But it should be like snipe hunting-happens once, everybody laughs, but you’re an idiot if it happens again.
Reason two is just as important and it goes back to planning. Know when the game starts so that you know when to begin pre-gaming. Odds are you have an early game this week, so getting up early may be required. Do not continue to get up at 5am once you start having afternoon or evening games. You won’t make it to the game. I promise. And you will be that guy that causes your friends to be late or miss the game because they had to take care of you. Do not be that guy.
5. Do not half-ass a tailgate
If you’re hosting a tailgate, you need to own it like you’re being paid to do it-ironic given how much of a money pit tailgating equipment is. Sure you tell your wife it’s for hurricane preparation, but we all know you’re full of crap and just need that generator to power your satellite and tv setup. A proper tailgate should include: real food (not just chips and dip), real drinks (beer and cokes), entertainment (TV for the other games is preferable, music at a bare minimum), cornhole (or another game that is inferior to cornhole), shade, and seating for plenty of people. Notice I used the word “and” to connect this. Anything less is half-assed. Do it right, or go hang at someone else’s.
6. Wear your team colors
In the south, this isn’t a difficult concept-we’re all about concepts that aren’t difficult down here. Rep your team. If you’re only going to wear team colors, here is a handy guide. If the opponent shares a color with you, wear your team’s alternate color-when Florida plays Tennessee, Florida fans should wear blue; Georgia Tech-FSU, wear garnet if you’re a Nole. You get the idea. Do not wear neutral colors, you are not allowed to be Switzerland. If you are indifferent to both teams, wear the colors of the person that brought you.
This rule goes quadruple if you are the visitor. Put people on notice. They need to know.
7. No. Random. Jerseys.
I could have included this in the previous section, but it’s important enough to be its own rule. If you have a jersey from a player on your favorite pro team and he didn’t attend the college you’re cheering for, leave it at home. This goes for the opposite as well, no college jerseys at pro games unless that guy is on your team.
Also, I never thought I’d have to say this, but being a Georgia Tech grad and fan, I know I do. NO JERSEYS FROM OTHER SPORTS. I do not care if it’s all you have, Wayne Rooney is not welcome in this dojo. Get out of here! It’s perfectly acceptable to wear team colors, or buy a cheap t-shirt. There are options, your Real Madrid replica jersey should never be one of them.
8. Don’t be a jackass to opposing fans*
*Supporters of your rivals are not fans, they are enemy combatants. No quarter.
Obviously, I’m being sort of facetious about the rivalry game, but there’s oftentimes a lot of hate there. It’s fun to poke the bear, but just be prepared for it to maul you. Listen, we go to these games to see our teams win. That’s not a secret. But there’s not a game that’s ever been played where at least one patron wasn’t a fan of the visiting team. If you’re a big fan of your team, the odds say that you’ll be on the road watching your guys play. You want that to be a good experience, right? Don’t antagonize fans of the opponent during or after. If they lost, they know. If they won, you don’t want them salting the wound. Give them the nod and move on.
I’m not saying buddy up or hang out with these people, but don’t be a dick.
9. Learn something about your team (and football in general)
This is serious. You need to know enough about your team to have a superficial conversation about the players, coaches, and strategy. You need to know names and you need to know who the head coach is, at minimum. You need to know the impact players and how the team did last year. You need to know who the opponent is and whether they’re a cupcake, good non-conference, or conference opponent. It would also help to know the predominant offensive scheme so you can talk about the spread, air raid, or pro style offense and bitch about why it sucks.
10. Don’t get in fights with other fans
Seriously, you’re probably at a point in your life where it’s only socially acceptable to get in a fight if your life is in danger. Getting into a physical fight with idiots around you is just stupid. Do not pick a fight with random strangers over a bunch of college kids playing football. Just shut up and go back to your tailgate. You’re a grown ass man.
11. Have a hell of a time
FOOTBALL IS BACK!