Ball so hard: University tailgates dwarf game action
Much to the dismay of my father and grandfather, I don’t know a whole lot about football. If I did, you’d probably be reading about this in the sports section. On a good day, I could throw a decent spiral and explain the basics of a game. On a normal day, I pester my guy friends to explain why the refs throw a flag, debate who has the better outfits — which my dad insists I refer to as uniforms — and hope that a real tussle breaks out between the two teams. But that doesn’t mean I love game days any less than the most knowledgeable fans.
Game days are just plain exciting. Our world stops spinning a little bit when it’s game day in Charlottesville. Case in point, I received no e-mails between Friday night and the end of the game on Saturday. I can’t remember the last time I went 24 hours without getting an e-mail notification. It was a beautiful thing.
Game days are miniature holidays filled with all the best things that celebrations have to offer. Preparation is a serious matter. You have to dress your best — girls in pearls and guys in ties — before heading to the best part of the day — the tailgate. At this literal pregame, you engage in quintessential American activities, while assuring yourself that we are in fact going to win.
Once you’ve had enough debauchery, you begin the trek — because the buses don’t run, another sign of a true holiday — to the stadium in a herd of other students. As you near Scott Stadium, the excitement builds. You pass more tailgaters, the noise from the stadium gets louder and if you’re lucky, Cav Man gallops past you. What more could you ask for?
To me, the football games are less about the actual sport and more about the University’s sense of community. It’s about scanning Scott Stadium’s sea of orange and intentionally overlooking that one small sliver containing the other team’s band and few fans. It’s a social event — a time to catch up with friends outside of class or the chaotic Corner scene.
For the most part, the stands are for the fans dedicated to the game, the true lovers of the sport — my father, for instance. But the hill is the place to go for people to casually watch the game. In theory, the hill is a great place for toddlers to play, namely in that they don’t need to sit still. In reality, the hill is probably the last place savvy parents would want their impressionable small children, despite the fact the little girls in cheerleading outfits and little future frat stars are a blast to watch. No matter where you sit, the sense of community and common love of U.Va. is palpable and undeniable.
As I’m sure you heard nearly all fourth years lament, this was my last first football game. Even to the amateur, fairly uninvolved spectator, this game was markedly different from my class’s first football game.
That game was defined by fleeting U.Va. fans and a few overly rambunctious William & Mary kids celebrating their school finally beating us in something. In the weeks following, “Groh must go” became a uniting mantra.
In the last three years, we’ve stepped up our game quite a bit. We’ve united behind a head coach and a great team instead of against them.
But I’ve always adored the football players and coaching staff based solely on the fact that they represent U.Va. In fact, I probably care less than the average fan if we win or lose. I like winning for two main reasons. One, it reminds everyone that we are actually the best, at everything. And more importantly, two: I like singing the “Good Ol’ Song.”
So, congratulations to the team for a game well played this weekend.
See you all again Saturday! Go Hoos! And maybe more importantly, happy tailgating!
Abbi’s column runs biweekly Wednesdays. She can be reached at email@example.com.