Friday, September 22, 2006

A Post About Going to a Football Game

Ah college football season. The leaves are changing, there is dry crispness in the air, and the beautiful people are getting drunk in the parking lot on Jim Beam, Miller Light, and Jello shots. The fried chicken and pork BBQ are out on checked tablecloths under events outside forty foot land yacht RV's. And some young freshman pledge is bleeding for reasons unknown to him.

Because he is really drunk.

Well I guess so. Sitting two thousand miles from anywhere else, who even knows? All I know is what I see projected onto my wall each Saturday. And damned if it don'’t give me a hankering to hear radios playing AM tailgate shows sponsored by the local credit union.

But not to worry. Here in Hawai'i, we have our Warriors (formerly known as the Rainbow Warriors). And since the day we found we were coming, I have been excited for the chance to take in a Hawai'i football game.

All real college football fans have an intimate knowledge of Hawai'i football. That'’s because their home games are often the nightcap of ESPN's midseason quintuple-header. They start at midnight on the east coast, nine on the west, so when the once lust for football has not been sated by the day's events (or a huge win for your favorite team has you watching ESPN for every mention of your beloved) you settle in to watch the always exciting game.

This is WAC football ladies and gents. Perfect for those that can'’t get excited about a 7-3 Auburn beat-down of LSU. This is non-stop offense, gadget plays, and mistakes galore. Huge comebacks are de rigeur and everyone gets to play on a blue field at some point (Hawai'i does this weekend).

So C and me decided to take in a game at famous Aloha Stadium. This is the home of the Pro Bowl and was always a favorite of mine when playing College Football 2003 for the Xbox. It is not fully enclosed but has four high sections on each side of the field. Best of all, and unique to this stadium, the sections are connected by curved bridges, something I have always wanted to see.

The bridges are some how a feature of the stadium'’s capacity to be reconfigured into many different shapes including a baseball stadium and a large scale concert venue. Another consequence of this capability is a stadium built almost exclusively of steel (as opposed to concrete). It is kind of wild looking. Girders running everywhere.

We parked far far away and far too late to get a sense of the tailgating scene. It looked pretty fun though. And I am sure there was no shortage of rice. On the way to the stadium the first utterance of a common refrain, "Why didn'’t we bring the damn camera?,"” was occasioned by an enormous rainbow with its end situating right on the field. So neat.

Walking through the parking lot, we chugged the mini-bottles of Vodka and Jager we had brought along and hid some rum minis in the back pocket of my pants. See -– drinking is not allowed at college sporting events.

Not true it turns out. Only at places where people would clearly drink to the point of violence, like South Carolina. There was beer a-flowin' at the stadium. Every twenty feet or thereabouts. So we felt pretty silly acting all secret agent with our minis.

Then there is the matter of food. I imagine my father would have choice words if he saw me eating sushi at a football game. Teriyaki chicken, kalbi ribs, and dim sum. All the Hawai'ian faves. And even something traditional like roasted corn on the cob came with a twist. They have this stuff out here called Li Hing. It is kind of a sour candy powder. The put it on plums and eat them saldito style. But there was a big shaker of it sitting right beside the Old Bay and the kids were dousing their corn in it.

Other cultures are soooo stupid.

We took our seats (fifty-yard-line! Awesome!) after Hawai'i had already scored one TD on their first possession. UNLV was the opponent and they were as jetlagged as every other team forced to make the trip. Hawaii went up 42-0 before they knew what hit them. Yes. 42-0. Now that is the sort of game you can really enjoy. The offense was running four-, five-, and even six- receiver sets. The field was completely spread out and the UNLV defenders did not have a chance. No one wants to play against an offense like this.

And now that Jerry Glanville, another former Falcons head coach, has taken over the defense, they looked pretty dang good. Good enough to hold Alabama under 25 in their house. It'’s funny -– it is traditional for the coaches to wear aloha shirts and leis during the games but old Jerry Glanville is still wearing his all black "2 Legit 2 Quit"”-era duds. Given that he is about five foot tall, this makes for laughs.

Hawai'i looks like they will do alright this year. They have Boise St. and Fresno State on the road (nearly impossible) but may be able to get seven wins nonetheless. WAC road games are brutal. The conference stretches from Hawaii to LaTech.

The atmosphere was pretty good. The smallish crowd made a little noise and were helped out by Polynesian drummers in the corner of the endzone. They just kept the beat going throughout the whole game and were in native Hawai'ian regalia. Nearby, a fan wore ti leaves as a hat native style and was going bananas (not native).

Because Caroline was freaked that our car was going to get towed from the Kmart parking lot, we bailed early. Along with everyone else. Nice to know that with all the differences in the college football culture of Hawai'i and SC, we all still want to beat traffic/get drunk in the parking lot.


marsha said...

Hey gys,
B and I drove by the Gaffney peach on our way to Durham. And then it all made sense - where the dog got the name, I mean.

I'm a little slow on the uptake.

Anonymous said...

K. HAMPTON!!! Don't EVER say another word about me dragging out a story again!!! Do you realize how long you just took to say "We went to our first football game, the food was different, and it is not at all like South Carolina (or Tennessee) football!!!
It was interesting to read, but then I think my long stories are interesting, too (:

KHampton said...

Too funny.

I aspire to be such a story teller as you Jeri.