Ok, we readily admit that (for the most part) being in a stadium, beer and hot dog in hands, marching band playing and cheerleaders, well… cheerleading is the best place to watch college football.
But what if… life gets in the way?
Your BFF decides to get married in September. Sigh. Your clueless cousin decides that November is a great time to host a family reunion. Wrong! Your colleague wants to do a road trip in August. Get that resume updated!
I’ve been there, done that, bought the tee-shirt and hat (thank you, Kenny Chesney) and have concluded that college football does not sit in the corner for anybody.
The die-hard fan will not be denied.
So yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus and there is a place for you to watch your football. No matter who or what tries to stop you. Just make sure you have access to satellite TV or an app that delivers the goods.
And some understanding friends and family.
A dive bar in the Tropics
I’m a fan of funky, tropical dive bars. And no, “dive bar” is not necessarily a place where the carpets get squeegeed after last call. It is “a coveted badge of honor bestowed by aficionados looking for authenticity in such establishments,” according to Google search. To recap, dive bars are cool and location, location, location makes them more swaggy.
Drinking a Hemingway’s Mojito watching the Florida Gators play the Miami Hurricanes at the end of the world, aka Sloppy Joes in Key West? Yes, thank you. Sipping a Mai Tai at Arnold’s Beach Bar in Waikiki watching any football game? Hell, yes. Pass the free popcorn popped in bacon grease, please.
If your team is winning, you get to celebrate with all the beautiful people. If your team is losing, drowning your sorrows in a Pacific archipelago isn’t all that bad.
Hey, if you can get away with it, go for it. Just remember you paid a premium for that eight-hour traffic school so your insurance premiums don’t go up. Do not mess this up.
You will not fly under the radar if you wear your team’s jersey, eye black and some Bose headphones to class. But an 11-99 Foundation tee, khaki Dockers and a secret ear piece should get you teacher’s pet points while the rest of the class feels like felons. You get bonus points galore for going to Saturday school, watching the game, nixing insurance/DMV penalties and proving yes, you really can have it all.
In an RV at a national park
Picture this: You’ve got an RV all tricked out with a widescreen TV attached to the outside of the vehicle. Your captain’s chair and remote control are beckoning as a camp fire crackles. A frosty, cold beer(s) sits in a cooler as your pulled pork slowly cooks in a tin pot. Leaves rustle in the distance. An owl hoots nearby.
Nobody can hear you scream. It’s perfect for those fans who root, root, root for the home team (sing along, everybody!), no matter how badly it sucks.
Highly recommended: Glacier National Park and Yellowstone National Park.
This one is a bit tricky. First, you actually have to do something physical while watching your game. It’s called golf. But golf carts can be your saving grace.
Slap your cell phone on the seat or rent a cart that has a TV screen already installed. Now go play the most frustrating sport in the world. Lining up your birdie putt may take a wee bit longer than normal if your team is facing 4th-and-1 at the 1-yard line, down four points with a minute left in regulation.
Did you make a great shot? Throw your club in a sand trap or into the water hazard. The time it takes to fish it out allows you time to dry off and watch instant replays of that glorious touchdown or pick 6.
Golf is literally the perfect sport to watch… other sports. The 19th hole awaits.
Las Vegas casino
Hear me out. I once watched LSU v Alabama (2011’s Game of the Century) at the Orleans Hotel and was given free food and alcohol, including sub-zero tequila shots. There was actually a Patron machine there. Anyway, the casino’s sports book had that game on its big screen. The entire area in front of that screen (see above) was divided down the middle into two sections via theater rope.
Gotta keep the proverbial Hatfields and McCoys separated, right? Free hot dogs and pizza were flying. If you were sitting at slot machines, watching the game while pretending to gamble, your drinks were free. It was loud, bawdy and Southern. Best experience ever.
So here is how this works: dress like a ski bum recovering from a horrible ski accident that tore up your meniscus. Wear the awesome clothes (and a cane), but have a portable TV/smart phone nearby to watch your team play.
Park yourself behind the main lodge’s window. Order some chili con carne in a sourdough bowl, a frosty beer or Irish coffee and chill with your injured leg propped up. Your new found friends will join you shortly. During the TV commercials you have a splendid view of your fellow skiers skiing/crashing/cursing/being rescued by ski patrol in a sled.
The motive behind planning family reunions is pure. The reality of family reunions is a mixed bag of flowers and manure. Sure, it is nice to meet your wife’s second cousin but these meetings can be so awkward. Throwing complete strangers together and expecting them all to have something to talk about beside sex, politics and religion is impossible.
These reunions are usually planned over a weekend when football is being played. The nerve of these people! So run around and shake hands with everyone—the wife will be happy with your boyish charm. But bring a large TV and set up your man cave next to Aunt Ethel’s homemade potato salad and Cousin Betty’s cheese curds. You will find out quickly which relatives are the coolest—they will be the ones trying to sit next to you.
Just how good of friends are these people inviting you to a fall wedding, anyway? Clearly, they do not know you very well. I do. My friends have all been briefed and understand that any invite to a wedding held on any Saturday from late-August to early-January will promptly get a “nay” from me on the cutesy, RSVP card and sent off in the self-addressed, stamped envelope—but I’ll send a nice gift, OK?
I have attended one fall wedding. Since it was my first (and last), I remember it well. I spent the entire reception/dinner time in the bar, cheering on my team. I was perfectly content skipping the rubber-like chicken dinner and instead, noshing on martini olives and pineapple wedges. This experience led to the birth of my personal personal hashtag #StopFallWeddings and a date with the bartender later that week. Just sayin’.
You could get lucky and go to a football themed wedding but unless you live in SEC Country (see above), that isn’t happening.
If you have to go, bring your portable TV. In less time than you can blink, your entire table will be crowded with football fans. Free drinks—unless it’s a cash bar in which case why are you seriously even there?—and food aren’t so bad when you can watch football with all of your new BFFs.
If you know your team is going to lose, why not go to a place where you can stare at beautiful scenery and drink like a fish? Listen, if my team loses while I am in Paso Robles, sitting in an Adirondack chair overlooking the valley while drinking DAOU’s Soul of Lion Bordeaux blend, things aren’t necessarily DEFCON 1.
Watching a tight game at Napa Valley’s Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, sipping a big red [tip of the hat to 2015’s Fay] while navigating through an epic charcuterie board seems pretty on point, doesn’t it?
On a cruise ship in the Caribbean
College football’s week one used to start the Thursday before Labor Day. Now it starts the week prior and is nicknamed week zero. With only 11 games scheduled Saturday, August 27, the pickins’ are slim. There can/will be some bad football games, although for the football-starved fan, no game is technically bad—it just never reaches its potential.
In any case, laying in a lounger on the Lido Deck, watching a football game on a big screen while a Jamaican steel drum band plays near you can ease the pain of bad officiating. Maybe that targeting call was not such a bad call? Maybe the sun glaring on your glistening, tan/burned skin distorted your vision?
“A drink will make your eyesight better,” the Caribbean Queen Fairy whispers in your ear.
With smooth, white sand beaches in the distance and the palm trees swaying in the tropical breezes, the bad play-calling becomes less cringey. Hmmm, you think. Maybe this really is a good time to try out that Statue of Liberty play while inside your own 15.
“Imbibe in a Goombay Smash,” you hear CQF say.
Crystal clear turquoise water slaps the hull of your ship. Colorfully dressed servers twirl tall pineapples/short coconuts filled with cold concoctions. Their little umbrellas and plastic monkeys hanging on for dear life will make you forget… well… damn, what was I supposed to be doing here? Pickleball?
Come to think of it, watch the game if you can. But DVR it at home just in case you get lost in Paradise on August 27.
PS- I’ll be in the Southern Caribbean when the first football game of the 2022 season kicks off on my birthday. I’ll be on Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas watching football with some of the best human beings on this planet: my husband—the coolest person I know beside my twin—and our dear friends Mike (go K State!) and Cindy (go K State too!)
I’ll post pictures.
If I remember.