As the last few minutes of my shift slowed to a snails pace Tuesday night, I was talking to one of my coworkers. I told him that I would be heading back to school soon, and that I couldn't wait. He looked at me funny, and I assured him that it wasn't class that excited me - it was football season.
When I first got to this school, I hated it. I was, for the first time, getting my ass kicked academically. I envied all of my friends from high school that seemed to be having so much more fun than I was. I printed off a transfer application to Georgia after we lost to N.C. State my freshman year (half jokingly... but still, the thought was seriously crossing my mind). Eventually I realized I hated my life when I was trying to calibrate an electron microscope in a stifling hot room that would have made for a nice sauna if not for the disgusting body odor that made me want to wretch. Between that and other crap that was going on in my life, I very, very nearly did not come back to school. While I had grown to like the campus finally, I still hated class. Why would I come back? Thank God for football.
I changed majors and decided to give it one more shot. We were traveling to Notre Dame for the season opener, and I'd be damned if I was going to miss that. While that season kind of sucked, it kept me going through the fall, and kept me connected enough to the school to still give a damn. I loved football, started giving campus tours, joined Ramblin' Reck Club, and started doing what I really wanted to do, giving myself a reason to actually work hard.
I'm a Tech fan, because Tech fans understand how hard I have worked. Tech fans understand what it means to be a student at Tech. When it comes down to it, Tech students and graduates are smug assholes when it comes to talking about academics. Why? We've earned it.
We've studied weeks in advance for a test in order to still be able to get to a football game. We've left the library at 3:25 to make a 3:30 kickoff. Very few fanbases put athletics into perspective, and only we could applaud people like Darryl Richard for his off-the-field accomplishments as much as his on-the-field ones. Hell, there was a cry of applause for the lone senior form the volleyball team last year that was graduating with an engineering degree, while the rest got their management degrees (which itself is something to be proud of). Tech fans get it - it isn't just about sports. Winning to us isn't just a note in the W column, although we spend the majority of our time there. I'm gonna get a little USC-ey on you - we win forever.
There is a section in this year's upcoming T-Book that I wrote, explaining the tradition of "Getting Out." At Tech, we don't graduate. The term doesn't do it justice. We run the gauntlet - we party just as hard as anyone else (Reck Club members could drink anyone's asses under the table, and that's a damn fact), and we work harder than anyone else.
Why am I a Tech fan? Because when I scream at a football game, I'm connecting with a over a hundred years of academic and athletic excellence. I'm yelling at the same place that Coach Dodd taught his players the game of life (his players ended up running almost every company they worked for). I'm yelling with people who were around when a class called Drownproofing was a requirement. I'm yelling because the people on the field are going through the same crap that I go through as a student, and I am proud to be associated with them.
I tried to explain to my co-worker how I could care enough about my team to fly to Boston to watch them. I tried to explain how the football countdown is both torturous and exciting. I tried to explain how cool the Reck is. He didn't get it.
That's ok though, most don't... and that's what makes me love being a Georgia Tech fan.