Shameful, I know. I am a bad North Dakotan and a pitiful Bison – I own it.
It isn’t as if I have been oblivious to Bison sports. I have had student athletes in classes before and they have encouraged me to attend the events they participate in – they have even offered me free seats – but I just never really felt sufficiently motivated to actually participate in the whole college sports fan lifestyle. Not that I haven’t supported our Bison athletes and wished them well, but sitting at an event wearing a funny hat and face paint – yeah, that’s just not me.
Enter Michael, who is a loyal Bison football fan and the next thing you know I am at a Bison football game. Okay, so I’ll say at the outset that I know that at first blush the whole notion that I am attending a sports event after all these years just because my boyfriend likes it looks a lot like a sad little girlfriend attempt to pander to a man’s interests. I can see where one would come to that conclusion. Thankfully, it isn’t the correct conclusion, but had I been observing this behavior in a third person I would conclude the same – sad little girlfriend attempt.
Michael has been attending Bison football games for years. He is a dedicated fan – in that he knows all the players, team history, etc. – but he isn’t wearing the crazy outfits and painting his face (thank you God for that). He told me early on that he was a fan and asked if I attended the football games. I had to fess up straight away that I was a Bison football virgin…that I had never attended a single Bison football game (or any Bison sporting event for that matter). Hearing that I was a virgin in this area, Michael was gentle with me. He asked me if I wanted to attend a game with him, all the while making it clear that it wasn’t his expectation that I attend and that he wouldn’t be offended if I didn’t. There is something quite alluring about being able to try something the first time without pressure, but with someone who has enough experience to allow you to have a good experience.
So I thought if I was going to ever experience Bison football – now, with Michael, would be the most sensible time to do so. So I went to Saturday’s game. And I must say, as far as first times go – it was fabulous. They say you never forget your first time – I think that will be true of my first Bison football game.
Of course the way I experience the world is not always the way normal folks do. Being this was my first Bison football game, I had a lot to learn – not only about the team and the game rituals, but also about the whole machine that is Bison Athletics. I was dumbfounded at the amount of money involved in the whole enterprise. It is incredible how big a deal these games are – as evidenced by the fan commitment, the sponsor commitment, the extravaganza that accompanies the game, and the amount of revenue involved. The fan attire aspect alone was incredible to behold. So many folks were sporting the green and yellow in every conceivable way they could. Michael bought a new shirt while we were there – one of the bright yellow shirts. God bless him – at 6’3″ he is really representing in that shirt. I wore my simple white t-shirt that discreetly says NDSU to the game. That is as much representing as I felt obliged to do. I will not be wearing a bright yellow shirt regardless of my level of support as that color does nothing for me and I believe that one represents best when one looks good representin’.
Oh yes, Bison Athletics is clearly a moneymaking machine and they appear to have harnessed an incredibly dedicated fan base. From some of the folks I saw I suspect Bison football days are what many of these fans’ lives revolve around…these are not average fans…they are 100% invested and these are not just games – this is a lifestyle. Having attended a game now and witnessed this loyalty myself, I can see how it happens. This notion of college sport loyalty is powerful stuff and being in the midst of it – particularly during a game like the one played Saturday where the Bison slayed their opponent – I can see the allure of it all. Not that I would ever paint my car green and yellow, fly a giant Bison flag in my yard or paint my face green and yellow – but I might allow my Saturdays to be framed around football games and I might wear one of those little Bison tattoos on my cheek.
But having said all of the above, what I really wanted to address was my explanation of my behavior in attending the game in the first place (to dispute that it was not a sad little girlfriend attempt). So here is the deal folks, I like the notion of supporting the Bison and although I am very unlikely to attend a football game on my own, being able to attend the game and share the experience with my boyfriend has a lot of appeal. I may have been a virgin before Saturday, but now I intend to become a knowledgeable and seasoned fan with tutoring from Michael. It was not a sad little girlfriend attempt because I am not just doing it in an attempt to get closer to my boyfriend; instead, I went to the game because Michael opened the door for me to have that experience. I guess I will remember that next time I think about judging a girlfriend’s participation in an event her boyfriend likes…or vice versa (its not like boyfriends don’t have sad little boyfriend attempts as well – that is the whole premise behind “date movies”).
My takeaway from this experience is that sometimes the beauty of meeting and spending time with new people is experiencing new things and learning that you like doing those new things. It is icing on the cake when you also enjoy the person that you are doing those things with. So you can expect to see me at more Bison football games in the future, but like I said – don’t expect me to ever be wearing a bright yellow shirt – there are some things I have already experienced in life and learned to stay away from – and wearing that color is one of them. I’ll leave my representin’ to my moderate fan attire and a well-placed tattoo.
Day seven hundred and ninety-eight of the new forty – obla di obla da