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.