Posted originally on the Common Threads Blog,
Centre Daily Times, Sept 5, 2007
It is football season in State College…again…and I find myself the rare species, the “non football” fan in Centre County – even after twenty years of living here.
I remember walking downtown as a graduate student, and wondering aloud to a friend, “Who is this person – why is his cutout and picture everywhere?”
“Shh!” replied my friend, “don’t ask that in State College… that is Joe Paterno – Joe Pa, you do not want to be so ignorant around here.”
“But who is Joe Paterno?,” I whispered back…
I am a little wiser since then – and have even attended a football game, where the half time show captivated me more than the game.
My husband is interested in the game, and sometimes gets my daughter’s company to watch a Penn State game on TV.
Thankfully, my husband stopped going to the games after experiencing four or five of them at the stadium, because the long time commitment was incompatible with his other obligations of teaching, research and life.
My family has periodically tried to get me interested. I sometimes watch the replay on TV, when I am told that something great has just happened, and still am not converted to becoming a fan.
A good thing perhaps, considering the number of hours in my life that have been saved, by my lack of interest in football.
But I do understand the power of the game in this town, and the lives it supports, and modifies - of businesses, of football lovers, who plan their weekends around it – tailgating, attending the game, watching it, hosting visitors, traveling, analyzing the game and so on..
I also understand the visibility it brings to Penn State, and the resources it attracts to the university.
I also understand how memories are built around football, and entire lives are remembered and played out in the context of these games.
I realize too how the games will bring people together this weekend - in their support of Penn State versus Notre Dame - people who otherwise may have nothing in common.
And I have also come to appreciate the quietness in town when the football fans are busy watching football – the perfect time for all of us non football fans to enjoy the quiet.
But then, perhaps that does make me a “fan” of football after all…