I've always thought that the bond between a sports fan and their team is a fascinating connection and as I've watched this year's World Cup I've spent more time thinking about it than normal.
The passion that the rest of the world has for their national soccer club, in my opinion, is closest related to American football - and even more specifically, college football.
The schedule also gives you one game per week so you have 7 days to over analyze the previous week's game and become an expert on what is going to happen on the upcoming Saturday.
The other thing that helps is the direct connection to your team. In the World Cup it is YOUR country versus another country. How many Americans do you know that didn't root for USA? College sports is like this too because YOUR school is your school - except, of course, if you went to Texas State and you wear more burnt orange than Earl Campbell.
Rivalries also help turn up the juice and passion. At your workplace there are typically many universities represented and each person has their own school pride. For the most part the conferences are fairly regional so you have a vested interest in if your school beats the school of the guy who's desk is next to yours - because you don't want pay up that friendly wager you made with him on Friday.
I started school in the fall of 2000 and I didn't miss my first home game in 2004 when I went to a friend's wedding instead of the OU game breaking a 30 game streak. The only one I've missed since then was the Hurricane Rita game in 2005 against Texas State (putting me on a current 32 game streak since the TxSt game). If I'm not at the game (read: if it's away and I'm not traveling), I'm watching it on TV - and if it isn't televised then I'm sitting listening to Dave South on the radio or computer.
There is a strike of fear that hits me like a bolt of lightning and then twists my stomach into knots when someone gives me a date for some event during a fall Saturday. The first thing that runs through my head is, "Whoa, I need to check the schedule." I don't say "check my schedule" simply because the football team's schedule IS my schedule.
I've passed up countless hunting trips in the fall and late summer fishing trips and Texans games from vendors at work because of conflicts with our schedule (the Texans games because I don't want to burn up my brownie points trying to squeeze two football games into one weekend).
I don't think Jennifer understood it until I explained to her that if you made me list out the 15 most important days of every year, 8 or 9 would be Saturdays in the fall when I have a ticket for an Aggie football game.
I only get 5 precious vacation days every six months at work and I try to hold onto a day or two in the event that we make a bowl game that I want to travel to.
I know that I'm a bit of a fanatic (which is where the word fan came from, right?) but I also know that I'm not the only one like this. I see familiar faces wearing maroon shirts from San Diego to Lincoln to Miami. Even if I am in the top 10% of crazies, the normal college football fan is still more passionate about his team than he is many other things in his life.
When we found out that Benjamin was going to be born in October the first thing I did was pull out my pocket schedule and try to figure out what the odds were on me missing a game - and, thankfully, it worked out perfectly as we were on the road at Iowa State the weekend after he was born. I also carefully negotiated a house rule dictating that his birthday party will always be celebrated on a Friday night or on a Sunday.
Now that Benjamin is more active and I have more responsibilities on the weekends I've actually reached the point that I've cut back on other activities (like Astros games, Aggie baseball games, and Aggie basketball games) so I can save up those brownie points and cash them in for any problem that might arise during football season.
At some point Benjamin is going to have some sort of activity that will convene on a fall Saturday - I can't be so selfish as to ban him from anything that could go that direction - but I can sure hope and pray. It's not that I wouldn't want to see him doing whatever it is he's doing - it's that I want my cake and to be able to eat it too.
Some would say that it is an addiction, and I can't really argue with them about it. I can remember who I went to the '06 Missouri game with but I can't remember what day of the week the trash goes out.
Maybe it is related to obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). I can't deny that I have a little of that in my blood.
In the end, it doesn't really matter. I don't want to be cured of Aggie football. If I did, Fran would have taken care of that 5 or 6 years ago.