Sophie curled up in my arms Saturday night as I was turning on the TV to watch the Georgia-Clemson football game.
Sophie is my 22-month-old daughter. She saw people cheering as the game began and threw her arms up in the air over her head as she proclaimed “yay!”
So at kickoff, I taught her how to circle her arm in the air while holding out a long “Go!” then to throw her arm down as she shouted “Dogs! Sic’em! Woof woof woof!”
So the rest of the night — well, until she went to bed around 9 — she held up her arm and said “Go!” then threw it down as she shouted “Dogs!” Luckily she didn’t have to feel the sting of that defeat, or hear words to add to her growing vocabulary.
Even my husband, Chris, who isn’t a fan of college football, couldn’t resist how exciting it was to see Sophie participating.
We are huge football fans. In fact, our biggest argument in our marriage is which NFL team Sophie will cheer for.
You see, I’m a die-hard Atlanta Falcons fan. And somehow, I married a die-hard Carolina Panthers fan. It’s a tense 17 weeks in our house (not including playoffs of course). It’s amazing we’re even still married.
Football is a necessary part of fall festivities. It’s just as important as driving through the mountains to enjoy the leaves while picking up my favorite strawberry apple cider. In fact, my parents scheduled everything we did on the weekends while growing up around UGA and Falcons football games.
If we wanted to go to an apple house, we did it on a Saturday morning when UGA had an evening game. If we wanted to go to a pumpkin farm, we did it on the Falcons’ bye week.
There are pictures of me at 6 months old with my red and black outfits proudly displaying which team I was destined to root for.
It doesn’t matter that neither I nor anyone in my family attended UGA. That’s who my family supports. (I did get accepted there after finishing two years at Young Harris College, but chose to avoid the distractions of Athens and attend Berry College instead. I was in Athens every weekend I could get over there.)
My parents stood by the Falcons even in the dark years. You know, back in the 1980s when they had a 4-12 season. We were there in front of the TV during the years of The Dirty Bird. Can we please bring that back?
And I am there year after year as they continue to disappoint me during the postseason. My parents still plan their Sunday activities around the Falcons schedule.
I’m often called while a game is on and asked if Sophie is wearing her Georgia Bulldogs dress or if she’s wearing her “My First Falcons T-shirt” shirt. Mom calls Chris and taunts him while the Falcons are playing the Panthers, reminding him which team is dominant and that Cam Newton is no Matt Ryan. (Being a Bulldogs fan, the hate toward Cam is just natural.)
I’m excited to share that fun of football season with Sophie. It seems as though I’ve gotten her started in the right direction. Now if only I can convert Chris to being a Falcons fan instead of those horrible Panthers, maybe football can be a great way to spend time as a family for us, too.
Murray County native Misty Watson is a staff writer and photographer for The Daily Citizen. You can connect with her at firstname.lastname@example.org, facebook.com/MistyWatsonDCN or on Twitter, @mistydwatson.