Football makes even less sense to me than other sports. First of all, why the hell did we need to steal the name that when translated in most other languages, means what we call soccer? Secondly, as a psychologist I know too much about the cognitive hazards of football, and third, as someone who believes in fairness and equality, seeing athletes get money, fame and fake grades lobbed at them just for being good at one thing feels kind of ludicrous.
But hey, I know that many people love to play sports, watch sports, and root for their favorite teams. I never became one of them, as neither my high school nor my graduate school had a football team, and my college had a team that was so bad we almost made it into the Guinness Book for number of consecutive losses. So, I never really got into the whole football culture. Yet now I live in a town gone hog-wild (pun intended) for football.
Other people wiser than I have talked about the regional differences in states that do and don't have a pro team, but suffice it to say that Arkansas does not have a pro team, and thus all the football-lovin' verve is channeled to the Razorbacks.
Why, you ask, is the Arkansas mascot a feral pig? Well, gentle readers, as Doug and I learned yesterday, the answer dates back to 1909. Back then, the Arkansas team was called the Cardinals, with colors of red (Cardinal red, mind you) and white. The team had an undefeated year, and at the end of the season, the team met it's fans downtown at the train station, where the coach proclaimed that the team "played like a wild band of razorback hogs." The student body loved the line, and voted to change the mascot the following year, in 1910.
We learned this via a plaque on the opposite side of the street from the old train station, which is now a building that houses a Chipotle and a new bar called "The Rowdy Beaver."
Perhaps it is obvious, but I write about football now because Saturday (Sept 3rd) was the first game of the Razorback season. Driving around town yesterday, every other car had tiny little hog flags waving from the windows, and pretty much everyone was dressed in red. (Of note, the official colors are red and white, though for a few years the Collegiate Licensing Co. was making UA gear with red and black.) Doug and I actually had an opportunity to go to the game, but we slacked about asking for the tickets offered to us, so we didn't attend.
Instead, after dinner, we took a walk around campus to see the tents and the stadium. We found a neat hill with an excellent view of the stadium, including a decent view of the field:
I anticipate that getting into the football craze will be a large learning curve for me in this job. I can--and will--dutifully wear red and white the day before and/or the day of a game. I may even attend a game or two if given the opportunity, because I do not yet understand how to "call the pig." Whether or not I will ever truly become a fan of football, or a specific fan of the Razorbacks, well....only time will tell.