It’s football time in Texas… and Tennessee, and Hawaii, and New York…

This post originally appeared in the September 6, 2014 edition of the Wise County Messenger. Photo found here.

Football season is finally in full swing, which means it’s fall – no matter how hard the Texas weather may work to convince you otherwise.

Fall was always my favorite time of year growing up, because it had my birthday, Halloween and Thanksgiving all crammed into one season. But, more importantly, there was football.

My family was never really big fans of any NFL teams. We mostly stuck to college ball. One of my earliest memories as a kid is watching my dad print off the UT schedule (Tennessee, not Texas – the only good kind of orange. Feel free to send your hate mail now) and post it to the fridge every fall.I never played in high school – I stuck to basketball and cross country – but I always loved going to games and cheering on my favorite teams.

He, my brother and I would keep track of the wins and losses for the season and write the scores on the schedule after every game. This was a tradition that would continue every year, whether we were living in the United States or not. We would always find a way to watch games, even when we didn’t have ESPN. Once bowl season started, we’d print out those schedules and keep track of them, too.

Over the years, we accumulated more and more schedules on the fridge, including Middle Tennessee State, Hawaii, Army, and, now that I’ve graduated and my brother has started college, TCU and Alabama. It’s an eclectic grouping and it makes every Saturday really interesting.

And even though I follow the NCAA more than the NFL, being in a fantasy football league with some college friends I don’t get to see too often is a great way to keep in touch every week – even if it is just to trash-talk everyone.

As I watch all these games, now that I’m older and living away from my family, I’m struck by the notion that it isn’t as much about the actual game, or the score, as it is about being able to participate in a shared experience.

Let’s be real. Hawaii hasn’t been much good since June Jones left, Army’s lost to Navy most of my life and TCU is still figuring itself out in a new conference. Don’t even get me started on Tennessee and the one-two punch that was Lane Kiffin and Derek Dooley.

No, watching these games now is more just a nice reminder of community. Maybe the old saying about football being a religion in the South isn’t far from the truth. There’s something to be said for being a part of a group of people who still cheer for the same team year-in, year-out.

And no matter what team you call your own, that’s a feeling that’s universal in sports – not just football.

All that being said, Go Vols, Blue Raiders, Warriors, Black Knights, Horned Frogs and Roll Tide. I’ve got your schedules on my fridge.

It’s going to be a good season.

Jake Harris is a reporter for the Messenger.

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