It’s football season and this girl LOVES football! Actually, I’ve had a love-hate relationship with football since my early days at Florida State. I love the sport and all the fanfare and tradition that goes with it, but I hate (and love!) the anxiety of close games and tough losses, as well as, those infamous in-state rivalries.
I’m a passionate fan who bleeds garnet and gold, screams my heart out at every play and truly feels the thrill of each win and the agony of each defeat. Yes, it is just football, but to this girl and many others, it is life.
As fate would have it, I married one of those “Rowdy Reptiles,” a Florida Gator. If you live in Florida and you follow college football, you know all too well that for approximately six months of the year, we are truly a house divided. My husband, while less rowdy than most Gators, is no less passionate than his counterparts.
So when you’re the only Seminole to marry into a family where everyone was born and raised in Gator Country and you do so during the Tebow years, you gain a great deal of humility and thick skin. And then, you add kids to the mix.
I thought things would get messy, that the rivalry would be too much to stand. Yes, I’m a sane, intelligent woman and I know this sounds crazy, but you have to understand these rivalries. Children unknowingly become pawns in the fandemonium. It is one step up from dressing up our pets. I can make that statement; I’ve done both.
There are some parents who might “fight, fight, fight” to sway their kids to support one team or the other. Others might take it a tad too seriously and encourage their offspring to “hate” or even ridicule the other team. And there are still others who are reading this post – if they’ve made it this far – thinking I need to get a life.
I don’t know if I’ve matured (highly unlikely) or simply evolved in my football fandemonium. While I still love my Noles and have hyper-happy-anxiety during every game, it really doesn’t bother me if my kids wear garish, gaudy blue and orange or have to inefficiently use both hands to show their school spirit.
No, in fact, I’m so proud of how both our families have embraced us and our teams because in the end, it is a lesson for our kids. Yes, it is just football, but our kids watch how we interact and react. They learn by example and they are learning we are not a house that’s divided so much as united.
My mother-in-law, a passionate, proud, and self-described Gaudy Gator, has repeatedly given our kids Seminole attire and trinkets. My father-in-law, one of the most devoted Gator fans I know, constantly talks to me about the Noles and affectionately calls me his “Nole friend.” My folks have given my husband and the kids tons of Gator swag.
We still banter back and forth and try to win each kid over to our side, but we don’t take it too seriously. It is just football, just a game, but again, our kids are learning about healthy competition, good sportsmanship and gaudy versus flattering colors.
I may be a Nole Girl, but I can’t help but laugh when my two year old son says “I’m not an instigator; I’m a chomp-a-gator!” Similarly, when both of my kids immediately do the chomp when they see a Gator logo, it makes me smile. It is all in good fun. Just like, regardless of the team colors they’re wearing, both my kids will at random proudly and loudly sing the Florida State Fight Song from beginning to end. Now that’s good, sporting fun.
I’m curious about other divided houses. What has been your experience? How did you manage the football rivalry?