Or is it Georgia – Florida day? I get confused.
Today is the a big day ’round these parts. One thing I learned after I moved down to the South was how seriously they take their college football.
Having grown up in the Northeast, it was a bit of a shock to my system. I mean sure, we had schools like Syracuse University, but there weren’t many folks who got passionate about them who didn’t actually attend the institution.
But down here some of the most rabid fans never even went to college, much less attended the home of their favorite team. I still don’t understand it.
When I lived in Jacksonville, and on Ameilia Island I was in that no-man’s land that was potentially dangerous to someone as naieve about the ways of Southern college football as me. If you look at a map of Ameilia Island you will see that it is the part of the state that swings up into Georgia on the coast. If they’d kept the line straight, by rights it would be north of the border.
Native: “Are you a Gator or are you a Seminole?”
Native: “Don’t tell me you’re a Bulldog!”
It wasn’t a very good recipie for much of a meaningful dialogue.
And in Jacksonville it seemed that the biggest of the rivalries was reserved for the Florida – Georgia game, which is played every year on neutral ground. The story I heard was that the emotions just got too much when they had the games in Gainesville or in Athens. And it was just my dumb luck that I happened to live on that “neutral” ground.
I even know mixed marriage families. That creates an interesting home dynamic!
Because of that I’ve learned over the years to be very careful about what I say in regards to the regional sports teams. I’ve watched a casual comment turn a seemingly normal civilized person into a crazed maniac spewing all kinds of horrible stuff so fast you’d think there was some sort of demon possession involved or something.
Anyway this particular game is a week long event in Jacksonville. Good for the economy. The unfortunate ones drive into town the day before the came and try to make up for the celebration time they lost during the week.
Driving down to Jax for a job yesterday I found myself in the midst of a caravan of orange and blue and red and black heading south on I-95.
At one point one of those pearly-white Cadillac Escalades went whizzing by me covered with Gator magnets and a parade of flags sticking up on plastic masts from each window. As the car blew by me I thought it was foolish of them to be going that fast. The last 15 miles north of the Florida state line are almost always manned by either local law enforcement or Georgia State Troopers looking to generate revenue from speeding tourists.
In fact, Camden County (the first county north of the border) has one of the highest narcotics arrest rates in the country because they patrol the interstate so heavily.
And I was thinking that Cadillac was emblazoned with the wrong colors for that side of the border.
I had to chuckle when I finally passed the Escalade on the side of the road parked in front of a patrol car. Ironically he didn’t get pulled over until about three miles South of the state line. He made it through the Georgia gauntlet somehow. But apparently the Florida Highway Patrol doesn’t cut slack for home team fans. Oops.
I’d say I don’t have a dog in this fight, but folks would construe that to mean I’m pulling for Florida. And the truth is it doesn’t matter much to me.
GO NAVY! BEAT ARMY!
And no. I didn’t attend Annapolis. But at least I did wear a Navy uniform for a while…
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