I didn’t grow up with football. In South Dakota – where my parents grew up and where I was born – I had a better chance of growing up a hockey fan than a football fan. No NFL team closer than Minneapolis and no “big” college team closer than the Huskers. So it just wasn’t a thing for us.

In high school, I attended football games for the social benefits, but never had a clue what was going on down on the field, and I can even remember my first few games as a new freshman at the University of Arkansas, my guy friends teaching me the rules — first downs, scoring, who tackles who. At first, it was dumb and I continued to view football as merely a social event, but before long – I began to truly consider myself a Razorback, and the electricity that is college football took hold.

This child, however. You could say he’s growing up with football…

First Hog Call of the season!
First Hog Call of the season! August 2013

We live three miles from campus, both of us are in the walk, and Colt was tailgating before he could talk. He’s in deep.

Season after season I see him learning the traditions and calling the Hogs, but it’s all been “just a game” until now.

Because NOW — he can count.

He’s been able to keep up with ‘OUR team is red, the other guys are blue/yellow/orange’ for a while now, but the scoring and points and the WINNING OR LOSING was not on his little radar. He used to watch his Hogs through cardinal red-colored glasses, but we are now cheering for the Razorbacks at the intersection of competition and kindergarten. Where a touchdown might be exciting, but, “Daddy! We got points! How many? Are we gonna win?”

A few weeks ago, we had the chance to attend the Arkansas/A&M game as guests of Razorback Athletics. The department invites faculty and staff like Jeff to home games as a thank you to those who help student athletes navigate academic requirements and what not. And! It’s the perfect way to take the little guy to a game. Because we get fabulous seats in an open area that lets him get up and down without bothering anyone, and the athletic department knows how to eat! They have a great spread and they are warm, welcoming hosts.

aTm seats
We watched the game from the patio of the Raymond Miller Room, in the Broyles Athletic Center – north end zone.

It had rained most of the morning, and was forecasted to rain much of the rest of the day — but we didn’t care. Razorback Football! Up close and personal!

Unless you’re living under a rock, you know that Texas A&M Football is currently headlined by the force that is Johnny Football, and the Razorbacks are going through some rebuilding with a new coach and a lot of young players. So (my) expectations were realistic.

But the Hogs showed up and made it a game — a VERY. EXCITING. GAME. Jeff is typically their most “realistic” fan and doesn’t sugarcoat team weaknesses or losses, but I think HE even knew we were hanging in there for that game — and let himself believe we had a chance to win it.

Jeff and I were into the game and we’d be cheering our heads off at one play or another, including one particularly exciting moment that had the whole place going nuts — and Colt would cheer his little heart out right along with us before asking, “Daddy, did the Razorbacks got 7?!”

Jeff’s been teaching him the very basics of scoring — 3, 7, most points wins — and he’s taking it very seriously. All night he carefully monitored the scoreboard. “Daddy! The ATMs have more points than the Razorbacks! I HATE that!” And with each Aggie touchdown, we’d hear an exasperated, “The ATMs got MORE points? When are the Razorbacks gonna get more 7s?”

Even as we walked up the hill to the car after the game — and probably still, now several weeks later — he was fixated. “The Razorbacks got 33 points! But the ATMs… got 45 points…”

As promised, it rained. But we were prepared. We kept right on smiling, cheering, and adding 7 + 7.

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These Hogs are waterproof.

Ultimately, the game didn’t go our way, but the whole experience made me feel like writing a love letter to college football. The energy, the tradition, the sense of camaraderie that makes ‘How ’bout them Hogs?’ an acceptable greeting between friends. The way my heart skips a beat at the tailgate when I hear Colt say, “Be right back, Mommy! I’m going over there to play football with my new friends,” as he runs off with a handful of boys he just met.  I love it all. And it all adds up to one big reason we love our adopted hometown.

{If you happen to be on the other side of Arkansas vs. A&M, be sure and check out my buddy Amanda’s account of game weekend, right HERE. She’s a born and bred Aggie, but we love her anyway.}

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