Georgia football has a bye this week, so I figured I’d tell the story of how I became a fan.
We’ve all got our origin story of how we became Georgia football fans. Most had it passed down to them from one family member or another. Some became fans out of the pure love of their home state. Then, of course, there are those that attended the University of Georgia.
However, my story is nothing like any of those. I grew up as far away from sports as you could imagine. We moved around a lot, but the place I spent most of my childhood was Dallas, Ga. I lived with my grandmother, dad, and two brothers. Dad was not a sports fan. In fact, he loathes sports.
My first introduction to sports came when my cousin brought me a paper bag of 1987 Topps baseball cards. However, I really had no idea who any of the guys on the cards were or what teams they played for. At that time I was more interested in Transformers, Thundercats, He-Man, and M.A.S.K. than sports.
However, that all changed the day I moved into a children’s home in Smyrna, Ga. It seemed that all of the boys there collected baseball cards. They would sit around and talk about all the guys they collected and who were their favorites. That was my first introduction to baseball.
After going to a few games at Atlanta Fulton County Stadium, the Braves had become my favorite team. I don’t remember a lot about those early years (1989-90), but I do remember the kids pointing out Dale Murphy. He was obviously everyone’s favorite player.
As the weather began to cool down, and the Braves weren’t in the playoffs, the focus started to change to another sport, football. That was when I was introduced to the team that would steal my heart, the Georgia Bulldogs. Again, this was in 1989 or 1990.
While in the children’s home, all the kids got “sponsors” that would take them places and we would have “visiting weekends” in their homes. One of my sponsors was a UGA alum. She was the reason I got to go to my first Georgia football game. Which just happened to be Homecoming 1992.
I’ll never forget that first drive into Athens. My face lit up when I saw the billboard that said “Now Entering Bulldog Country” with the giant Georgia logo on it. Then Jim Croce came on the radio singing, “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown.” I’d always liked that song, but I was about to fall in love with it for another reason.
When we got on campus we found a place to eat. I grabbed a hamburger and a Coke. After eating we headed down the street to the stadium. We stopped at a table not far from the stadium so I could get a hat. I’ve lost it through the years, but I’ll never forget it. I even found one on the internet not too long ago.
With the hat on my head we continued to the stadium. I couldn’t wait to finally see my favorite player live. That game also just happened to be Garrison Hearst‘s best as a Bulldog. He put 246 rushing yards on the Commadores of Vanderbilt in a huge win for Georgia football.
An uncontrolable smile came over my face the first time I heard the Redcoats play “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” on a tackle for loss. By the end of the game I knew every single one of the Georgia football fan chants. It was the most fun I ever had while being in the children’s home.
Athens has been in my blood since that game. Since that game I daydreamed about suiting up and playing on that field. That’s all I wanted to do (well, until I turned 15 and wanted to start a grunge band). Kurt Cobain had that effect on most us teenagers of that time.
Georgia football has been my happy escape from the every day stress of life since I was introduced to it. That is why, no matter how bad things may get in the future, I’ll allows be thankful for the ability to watch the team. I’ve seen the bad times and still loved that Georgia was my team.
Georgia football will always be a big part of me, even if I never fulfilled my dream of attending the school. To this day most of my wardrobe either has a Georgia logo on it or is red and black in color. I also own one Georgia football jersey. Its a Garrison Hearst throwback.
There isn’t a team out there I would rather pull for or another fanbase I would want to be apart of. I feel lucky to be part of Dawg Nation and, in my opinion, there isn’t a better fanbase in College Football. When it comes to how I feel about Georgia football, Larry Munson said it best:
And now a new breed of Bulldawg stands ready to take the field of Battle. To assume the reigns of their Georgia forebearers. To continue that tradition. Understanding that there is no tradition more worthy of envy. No institution worthy of such loyalty as The University of Georgia.