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Homecoming Through The Eyes Of A Football Virgin

Columbia football players practicing before the season

These players look about as confused as I was…

New Bwogger Maggie Gourdin has absolutely no knowledge of sports whatsoever. Naturally, she saw Homecoming as her chance to learn about one of America’s greatest obsessions: football. Here is Maggie’s take on her first ever Columbia football game.

Until about twenty-four hours ago, I had never watched, been to, or cared about a college football game. I know nothing about football, and attended my high school’s football games solely for the post-game Waffle House trips. Needless to say my family’s Homecoming enthusiasm was not completely mutual, but nonetheless I decided that this strange tradition of Homecoming was probably one that my future “wine-mom” self would regret missing out on. Even though I have no idea what Homecoming is and why it’s such big deal, I do know that if there were ever a football game to lose my Columbia football virginity, this would be it.

As we approached the Baker Athletics Complex—which I wasn’t entirely convinced actually existed—my only thoughts were of how happy I was that Columbia had free shuttles to the game, rather than us attempting to navigate there on our own and ending up in the Hudson. Walking around the stadium prior to the start of the game, I witnessed a couple of tiny, but spirited, tailgates taking place. My first thought, of course, was: “Why would anyone ever want to have a car in New York City,” but I hope they had a good time and didn’t get T-boned by an impatient cabby on the way home.

Once we settled into our seats, I witnessed the most bizarre marching band performance of my entire life. I’m pretty sure some girl was playing a “wet floor” sign, but I was a bit too distracted by the oversized foam hats to be sure. After the singing of the Alma Mater, which has not been mentioned a single time in my two months at this university, there was some tossing of a coin and the game began.

The first quarter began and I immediately knew that this was going to be a very, very long afternoon. Why do media timeouts exist? Football stops every ten seconds anyway, there is absolutely no reason to add even more breaks into this never-ending game. Half an hour had gone by before the first “fifteen minute” quarter was even close to ending. If the game wasn’t stopped for a commercial break, it was for the referees to throw around flags and make weird hand signs like I’m supposed to know what they’re trying to communicate.

After a fairly uneventful first half (we weren’t losing too badly yet), I had to brave the bathroom and concessions stand, which is a sport in and of itself. A quick pro-tip from your new favorite Bwogger—invading someone else’s personal space does not make the line for the bathroom any shorter. It genuinely took all of my willpower not to turn around and fight this woman, but, like the saint that I am, I kept my shit together.

The third quarter was much more entertaining that the first half of the game. Columbia made some really good plays, and I was getting really into it, but Dartmouth came back and crushed my newfound dream of watching the Lions win. By the time the fourth quarter rolled around, I was tired of watching our team get destroyed. Just when I was about to swear off football forever, the Columbia Lions scored a touchdown with less than a minute to go. Of course, by that point we were so far behind that it didn’t really matter, but it was a nice morale booster.

Now that I have my first college football game under my belt, I can honestly say that it was worth the trouble. The game seemed like it would never end and I still have no idea how football works, but this is definitely an experience that should be on everyone’s bucket list.

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