2018-01-10 / Editorial


Diana Royal

It’s Sunday night as I’m writing this, a night many 9 to 5’ers have to see dwindling away because of what follows: Monday morning. Oh but not this Sunday evening! There’s excitement in the air, a little bit of magic has been sprinkled across the blessed south. It’s like Christmas Eve, and I know I’m nowhere near the only one losing sleep. Tomorrow’s not just any regular Monday. Tomorrow will decide the national champion of college football, and hopefully as these words are being read, we’ve all been celebrating our Dawgs’ victory for a couple of days.

Regardless of how indescribably amazing this win would feel for Dawg Nation, this season has been about so much more than winning.

Even when we’ve not legitimately been so, sports “experts” want to knock us down a notch, make us the underdog, focus on one bad play in the mix of a solid game. And us? We’re the obnoxious fans. We’re crazy. We go too far.

I was born in December 1981 – eleven months after UGA defeated Notre Dame 17-10 in the Sugar Bowl to clinch the national title. The feat’s yet to be repeated. I’ve heard the stories. Even the retellings give me goose bumps.

When I was eight years old I was determined I wanted to be a writer, but I’d declared another “job” well before that one. I wanted to be a Georgia Bulldog when I grew up. (I hadn’t quite figured out that being a college student wasn’t exactly a job, but honestly – that wouldn’t be half bad.)

Red and black didn’t just represent Georgia – those colors were the embodiment of all football in my eyes. I cried huge, snotty tears when the Richmond County Recreation Department assigned me to the Cowboys. Cheerleaders don’t wear blue and gold I’d wailed to my mama.

There’s been a four-pack of unopened Coca-Cola bottles sitting on my parents’ bookshelf since the beginning of time: on one side a Bulldog sits drinking a Coke under the words 1980 NATIONAL CHAMPIONS and the other side displays the scores from a completely winning season. Those bottles sit next to a ceramic, hand-painted Uga that’s also older than I am. A younger Diana asked her daddy if she could have them all whenever he died.

My family has talked football over turkey, birthday cake and Easter eggs. We don’t let Aunt Nita watch games alone because of her heart. It’s a rule that weddings and parties are to be scheduled around college football season. Our youngest generation learned how to say, “Go Dawgs! Sic’em! Woof! Woof! WOOF!” right along with “yes ma’am” and “no sir.”

My acceptance letter to UGA came in early 2000, and again I cried huge, snotty tears with my mama. I got my top pick. One of my first dreams, if not THE first dream, came true. I still have my name tag from freshmen orientation, a day I recall with a grin as I remember being anxious, much like I am this evening. I remember my Gap shorts and the brown leather sandals that blistered my feet. I remember Mama waving at me as they split us into groups and I walked away.

Rather than take the bus, I walked past Sandford Stadium every Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoon to math class during my first semester, many times lingering on the sidewalk overlooking the football field; the stadium really is breathtaking. I was there when we beat Tennessee and the crowd rushed the field. A ten-foot tall Quincy Carter ran into me on campus once but picked up my scattered books before rushing off. I also walked under the arch, and whether a victim of superstition or not, I, sadly, do not own a University of Georgia degree.

Georgia football is not a mere game – it’s a tradition; it’s a way of life. Some of us are loud – all of us are proud. We bleed red and black. We eat Gator meat. and yes, we bark. Regardless of what happens on that field Monday night, none of this will change come next season. Being a Georgia fan isn’t something you can put into words. For most, it’s ingrained in us, and we’ll never be too young or too old to throw on our favorite colors and face tattoos to prepare for battle.

Return to top