Forward Rebels!


Me at last year's Ole Miss/UAB game

Football season is upon us.

That glorious time of year when I find myself making a special effort to pay attention to the sports section of the Sunday paper so I don’t look like an idiot when I go through the security gate at work.

See, on the front of my car, I have an Ole Miss license plate. I have this because I am an alumnus of the University of Mississippi. I spent four years there, and earned my degree there. I thus have some degree of fondness and loyalty for the university, from which I graduated.

As you probably know, the university from which I graduated, like many universities, has a football team. Granted, this is true more some years than others, but even so. However, the tag on the front of my car is there because of my connection with the academic institution from which I graduated, not for the athletic department thereof.

Thus far, I haven’t had the heart to explain this to this one guard who sometimes works at the security checkpoint at the gate I normally use to go to work. He is not an Ole Miss graduate or even fan, but is a fan of one of this state’s college football teams, and of SEC football in general. And thus has used my tag as the foundation for morning conversation when he catches me on my way to work. He occasionally ambushes me with questions during the off-season, but I do try to be prepared during the fall. Despite the fact that he has no particular connection to or interest in Ole Miss, he generally knows more about how we’re doing than I do.

I don’t follow sports in general, and Ole Miss football is pretty much the one exception to that. That said, “follow” is relative. I keep up with whether we win or lose, and that’s about it. In any given year, I might, possibly, maybe, be able to name as many as two players. When I had cable, I tried to watch as many of the televised games as I could. When I lived in Mississippi, I tried to listen to as many of the radio broadcasts as I could. I haven’t had cable in two years, and haven’t lived in Mississippi in eight.

I’ve attended games very sporadically, many years not making it to any at all. Last year I went to two games in the same season, which was possibly a record for me. One was planned well ahead of time; the other was a spur-of-the-moment thing when I was in Oxford with a friend on game day.

I will say, however, that I am a true Ole Miss fan in the sense that I am loyal through thick and thin. Many people became fans of the team during the most recent golden years with Eli Manning, and have been surprised and disappointed in years that didn’t live up to that standard. I became a fan during lean times, and over the years have learned that when it comes to Ole Miss football, the only constant is inconsistency. Even in consecutive weeks we can lose to Vanderbilt and beat Florida, and look just like ourselves doing either. Being a true Ole Miss fan is a great lesson in what it means to love unconditionally. (In a variety of different ways, even — like the current mascot selection process.)

This year, I’ll be attending at least, and probably only, one game. I find it horribly offensive that you can buy tickets online to a football game at my alma mater for five or six bucks, but I’m certainly not above buying at that price.

In the meantime, my iPhone is configured to send me push notifications when points are scored in Ole Miss games this season, and I’ll be reading the newspaper so I can talk about how we did.

Football season is upon us … Are. You. READY!?

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