I now live in a college football town.

This is noteworthy because I’ve attended two schools which proudly sold “Undefeated in Football” t-shirts because, well, they didn’t have a football program.  To then live in a town that would suffer without such a program has come as a tremendous shock.

I live a few minutes from Bill Snyder Family Stadium, where the Kansas State Wildcats play.  They are currently undefeated, and are now ranked in the top ten thanks to a victory over their talented conference rivals at Oklahoma.  I’ve thrown myself into the team as best I could: Rachael and I have attended a game, and headed to a popular bar to take in the latest victory.

Coming from Philadelphia, I’m not unfamiliar with sports fanaticism.  But I was caught off guard by the consistent, unabashed and at times extreme pride that this town had for its college football team.  I came to Manhattan unaware of the Kansas State football team.  I assumed this was a basketball school.  Four weeks into their season, though, and I’ve already absorbed a good deal of the team history, and not even by choice.  I soak it all up just by making my way around town.

What I do identify with, though, is the joy in being recognized.  The KSU-Oklahoma game was broadcast in primetime across the nation on Fox.  Even though it was a road game for the Wildcats, there was plenty of talk, and some shots, of the Little Apple during the broadcast, as well as on subsequent college football wrap-up shows.

The town seems to thrive on such recognition.  And for someone who worried about falling off the map as he became swallowed by the middle of it, I wonder if my new neighbors share those same fears, or if we’ve simply found different ways to arrive at the same feeling.

I’m not sure, but I’ll continue to learn: each and every Saturday.