A Personal Ode to College Football

One of my hands pressed up against the lukewarm interior window of our Subaru as we inclined slightly onto the Broadway Bridge.

My drifting pair of eyes settled on the edge of the metal railing, where a textured blue scarf etched its way out into the horizon. Albertsons Stadium peeked over the trees lining the left of the river, but I wasn’t focused on that.

My gaze had shifted to the action happening on the right-hand side of the river. A few bikers whizzed by on the green belt, masks shielding their lives from the virus.

Grandpa and I used to walk that trail, going to Boise State football games.

The fading yellow dotted line of that green belt flashing in and out of sight put me in a trance. Without noticing, my eyes lost focus, and I spaced out, going back to a memory of a happier time.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

The deep earthy smell of dirt lit up a euphoric feeling within my brain. Making this journey never made me feel like I was walking on a cement trail snaking through the forest in Boise, but that I was walking on air, effortlessly gliding to a certain future.

What felt even better was making the journey with my Grandpa next to me. He had gone to Boise State back in the day when there weren’t big end zones and stadium renovations.

Grandpa had made the journey down to Boise from Garden Valley that night to watch the Broncos. We walked and discussed the glory days of Bronco football –  Kellen, Coach Pete, the 07′ Fiesta Bowl.

Roars of bumper to bumper traffic hummed in front of and above us on the Broadway Bridge. The rushing river flowed only feet to the right of me, its sound blending in seamlessly with the excited chatter of thousands of blue and orange clade Bronco supporters around me.

I gazed off to my right at the flow of the river until the most beautiful sight stopped me in my tracks.

An ocean blue glow illuminated the night sky, like the afterglow of a TV screen when the game has just turned off. My gaze stayed there for a moment, admiring that man-made beauty.

Then I looked lower, past the glaring floodlights and into the sliver of raw human energy bursting from in-between the cement stands.

The Blue Turf shined in the glare of the Saturday night lights. Blue, orange, and white stripes were already filling in the South Endzone, like rows of Boise Neopolitan ice cream in a Ben & Jerry’s container.

I could hear the announcer from here, who had been announcing games since the Kellen Moore era:

“Welcome, Broncos Fans! Today, your Number Nineteen Boise State Broncos are taking on the Air Force Falcons!”

The smile that was plastered on my face cracked a little wider. My Grandpa’s smile lines were spread wide across his face as well.

We emerged onto street level, and my Grandpa pointed across the road. “You see that Chili’s?” he said, gesturing subtly. “That was there when I went here!”

I smiled, nodding. Some things never seem to change.

We ambled down to the tailgate area in front of the stadium. Delightful smells of burgers and hot dogs drifted through the air.

“Oh, that smells good.” Grandpa said, “We’ll have to get some in the stadium!”

“Yeah, we certainly will,” I responded, my stomach rumbling.

The smooth cement of the parking lot under my feet suddenly seemed to lose its grip on my shoes. My feet skidded and slid like a pair of out of control ice skates, and I fell face-first into the cement.

Ouch.

My head tapped against the window, and my eyes opened just long enough to catch Albertsons Stadium disappearing behind the Shell Gas Station on the corner of Broadway and University.

Wow. How long has it been since I’ve seen Grandpa? A few months? Maybe more? I sighed and rested my head back against the window.

Perhaps those wanderings were only one stroke of the paintbrush to the bigger painting of my yearning for my friends and family. Ever since quarantine has started, missing these people has been an everyday struggle.

I know I’m not alone. We’ve all missed our parents, our cousins, our friends, our coworkers, and our teachers.

My solidarity and empathy are extended to those who have lost important people in their life during this crisis.

Yet I know our pain will be greeted with the embrace of many of the incredible people I listed. For me, we’ll be watching a football game. I’ll be doing so in Boise. For you, perhaps you’ll be enjoying college football in Orlando, Kalamazoo, Boone, or Boca.

Most importantly, this football season, let’s remember this crisis. As we meet up with the loving people in our lives once again, let’s savor each moment a little more. Let us remember compassion.

Ask your friend or family member who you haven’t seen for a while to come over and watch the game. Go to the local restaurant that pulled through this crisis and buy a meal and a drink or two, with a toast to family and friendship.

In times like these, we are all reminded of the family we don’t see nearly enough. We’re reminded of the sports, such as college football, that help cultivate those relationships.

So, sit down and watch a game with your family and friends. Have a little fun, because those moments are all we have.

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