At Culture11, Alex Massie muses on an unlikely sports obsession for a Scotsman: American college football. Here’s one of several insightful observations, appropriate for this opening day of the season:
There is [a] permanence to college football that is comparable to European soccer or rugby. True, sports teams in Europe have owners, but their sides are held in trust, beholden to the supporters and the communities that hold them dear. It is all but unthinkable that their teams could be moved as a result of an owner’s whim. Even in an age in which sport has become big business, there’s an identity and belonging that endures, rooted in a keen sense of place. College fans know this feeling, because it is their feeling too.
Read the whole thing. It makes me think back to the four years I lived in South Bend in my first job out of graduate school. Those Saturdays when there was a Notre Dame home game were horrible for traffic, and forget about having out-of-town visitors; but the whole atmosphere of the city had this happy charge to it (even in those beginning-of-the-end Bob Davie years), and the one home game I actually attended was one of the most fun experiences I’ve had. It made you glad to live in South Bend, which is not an easy thing to pull off.
It’s easy to focus on those instances of college athletics where the sports programs have basically taken over the school, crossing the line from co-curricular to super-curricular. But college sports, football especially, remain a powerful means for students and communities to identify with universities in a way that you don’t usually see with academics. And don’t forget that you can’t be dumb and be a good football player at the same time.
[ht Phi Beta Cons]