This weekend was my first football game as a fan in years. Yes years! If I was still a sports reporter I’d be working until at least midnight at high school games on Friday night, then live again at 10am Saturday morning for our college pre-game show, work the game and stay about 2-3 hours post game for interviews and games stories. Football season meant 70 hour work weeks, little sleep, sore shoulders (30lb cameras get heavy after a 4 hour football game), a short temper, and no life.
I covered football for three of the SEC’s best teams. 2 SEC Championships, 2 National Championships, a Heisman trophy winner and countless numbers of top 100 recruits later I’m done. No longer is the life of an 18-year-old boy more important than my own; I can attend my best friend’s fall wedding; I can sleep in on a Saturday morning; and best of all, I can choose what games I want to watch and what games I want to attend.
This past weekend, Sean and I headed over to Athens for the Georgia game. Georgia was always my favorite team to cover and he’s an alum. It was my first southern tailgate: sundresses, koozies, corn hole, and hanging out with friends.
Georgia had a late game so we tailgated all afternoon before walking over to the game. I even missed kickoff, something I’ve never done! I was taught the cheers I was never allowed to chant (first rule of sports reporting: No cheering in the press box, or on the sidelines). And I had an actual seat. No running up and down the sidelines fighting other video and still photographers for the best shot. And because the game was a blowout, we left early. Not because of a deadline, but because I wanted to.
The whole weekend was so foreign to me, and yet so wonderful. Simple, stress-free, fun. Next weekend I’ll tailgate again, this time at Ohio State with my best college guys. The weekend after, friends are coming up for the Georgia-Tennessee game, and then a weekend in Asheville to celebrate my college roommate’s wedding and everything fall. Some days I think my fall weekends are just as busy as they were during my sports reporting days, but then I remember this time around I’m doing what I want to do, surrounded by my closest friends.
The Modern Gal put it more eloquently than I ever could: I’m living the fuck out of fall.