I come from the land of college football, where multimillion dollar sport complexes scatter the ground. On Friday nights you go to the local high school game, and Saturdays are for tailgating and college ball. The gridiron is sacred ground, where many a score is settled. Where is this in Maine, or the rest of New England, for that matter? Personally, I think it’s because of the privilege of an NFL team. But Mainers and New Englanders alike lose out on something so pure, so raw — college football.
Perhaps while traveling up I-95, once you make it past Pennsylvania, the lure of college ball is gone. It is one of the things I truly miss about home. By now you’re probably saying, “Maine has a football team,” or “Where are you going with this?” Well, yes, Maine indeed has a football team, but they don’t have the fans they deserve. Just hear me out…
Back home (Oklahoma), college gameday is a HUGE deal. Campus is effectively shut down. Roadblocks on every corner make vehicle traffic frustratingly slow, so most people stick to their feet. Tailgating is everywhere. Grills, beer and football — the “Holy trinity” of Saturdays. Kids running with friends playing pickup games of football, everyone yelling and getting excited. The smell of burgers on the grill fills the air. The atmosphere is inexplicable. But that’s not Maine.
A typical Saturday morning in Maine, you wake up, eat breakfast, check in with friends. You’d ask if they wanted to go to the football game, but their response is always the same — “There’s a game today?” Despite the signs all over campus, “FOOTBALL GAME THIS SATURDAY,” no one ever knows. And even when you do go, people don’t stay the whole time. Leaving after the first quarter or even at the half, why? It’s not boring, the Black Bears are doing well this season. They have a solid overall season record of 3-3, with four more chances at winning.
So who is to blame? No one person in particular, but I suspect that New England professional sports have a lot to do with it. In political science, there is a concept called voter fatigue. In essence, this happens when one feels they have to vote too often. In New England, we have sports fatigue — too much to watch, too little time to watch it all. And all too often, college sports take a hit. Why go to a college game when you could watch the NFL from your living room? It’s a shame. The boys have worked hard this season. They deserve for fans to go and stay and watch the game. They play for themselves, for each other, but overall, they play for us, for the University of Maine. Practices started in August; they gave up the end of their summer. They sacrifice time and energy for football, the least we could do is show up.
There are only two more chances to see the Black Bears play at home this season. Don’t miss them.