Final Impressions

Faith and football

Written by James Combs

School administrators at Presbyterian College in South Carolina were geniuses to offer a course called “Religion of SEC Football.” They realize the importance of preparing students for life in the real world.

In the South, college football is a big part of that real world. Conversations about gridiron greats and memorable games occur everywhere and all the time. A lack of knowledge about the sport not only earns you outcast status but also may lead to missed job opportunities.

OK, I’m just kidding. But I’m not kidding when I say college football is a religion in the South. Saturday is the holy day when we gather, rejoice, and say hallelujah after each first down.

We fanatics even bring God into the equation. You’ve no doubt seen bumper stickers that read: “God must be a Florida Gators fan because he made the sun orange and the sky blue.” Talk about delusional. We all know God is a fan of my beloved Kentucky Wildcats because the sky is blue and clouds are white.

Pinpointing the reason for our fanaticism is a little tricky, but we have our theories. Perhaps it has something to do with the Civil War. When Alabama or Florida win national championships on the gridiron, it avenges those crushing defeats suffered many years ago on the battlefield.

Or maybe it’s because the rest of the country places us near the bottom of the social totem pole. In their minds, we’re all illiterate, white-trash rednecks. While some Southerners may be lacking in doctorate degrees and big bank accounts, they’ll always have college football supremacy.

Universities located below the Mason-Dixon line have won 11 of the past 12 national championships. In that same time span, four different Southeastern Conference teams brought home the hardware. Name another conference in America that has four powerhouses capable of that.

Of course, it’s not all about winning. Even the occasional losing season doesn’t stop fans such as Buddy Davidson from showing up every week for love of the game, love of the school, and love of the Deep South way of life. Buddy is a die-hard Auburn fan who has attended 708 straight Tigers football games.

He understands that nothing defines Southern culture more than God, family, and college football. Students at Presbyterian College are learning that, depending on the time of year, it’s not necessarily in that order.

About the author

James Combs

Akers Media Group's James Combs has been a staff writer for several local publications since August 2000. He has had the privilege of interviewing some of Lake County’s many fascinating residents—from innovative business owners to heroic war veterans—and bringing their stories to life. A resident of Lake County since 1986, James recently embarked on a journey to lead a healthier lifestyle. He has lost 60 pounds and walks nearly five miles a day. In his spare time, he enjoys target shooting, skeet shooting and watching his beloved Kentucky Wildcats!

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