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The Big Game Buildup


A lot is riding on tonight’s BCS National Championship Game for what I imagine is a fair portion of our readership. No matter what they’re doing today, or how they act, both LSU fans and Alabama fans are internally freaking out. How could they not be? It’s the National Championship! It’s the climax of the greatest season of the year, not to mention the SEC circle jerk to end all SEC circle jerks. On top of all of this, the game is basically a tossup. No one has any idea what to expect, except for less than 40 combined points. That’s pretty much a given.

Big games like the National Championship always have the same type of buildup for a fan, and it starts with the wake up. Waking up the morning of a big game sucks. Even if you spent the night before as the only gentleman guest at an otherwise lesbian orgy, your morning will still be ruled by insecurity. For a contest this big most people are as scared of losing as they are excited to win, if not more so. This is usually reflected in the dreams they have the night before the game. Countless times I’ve woken up the day of a big game and thought the outcome had already been decided, and that my team had lost, because that’s what I had dreamt the night before. I lay there in bed half awake and think to myself “Oh God, what happened? We lost? NO! THIS IS THE WORST DAY OF MY LIFE!” only to soon realize that these feelings were the result of a terrible, horrible nightmare. Not cool subconscious, not cool. I have way too unhealthy of an emotional investment in this game for you to screw with me like that. I’d rather dream about being held prisoner in a concentration camp run by circus clowns (I call that dream “Schindler’s It”) than my team losing its biggest game of the year. Sadly the former would cause me less stress than the latter. I am unwell.

After getting ready and commencing drinking for the day the next step in game day buildup is to obsessively rehash the same talking points with your friends in an ultimately fruitless attempt to reassure yourself that your team will win. The conversation is usually an exercise in overly tempered expectations. No one wants to commit to declaring a victory, if only to make the blow of losing a little softer, as if that’s actually possible. You know damn well that if your team loses you’ll spend the rest of the night alternating between overt rage and silent disbelief. But even though no one admits it, on the inside every single person in the conversation wants desperately to hear someone say they have 100% confidence in their team’s ability to win the game. Except, you know, for when someone actually does express that confidence, and the rest of the group chastises that person for potentially jinxing the team. Of course secretly they’re all thankful that someone has that much faith. But still, if the team loses, fuck that guy, he jinxed them for sure.

Once opposing fans are sighted internal tension is replaced with external tension, and thank God for that. Finally the insane amount of anxiety that has built up over the course of the day can be somewhat released. Telling a group of opposing fans that you hope they and all their loved ones are wiped off the face of the Earth by a deadly, weaponized strain of herpes is like chicken soup for the sports fan’s soul. Momentarily you stop wondering how the secondary is going to hold up and start thinking up new, creative, and hopefully regionally specific ways to say “I am fairly certain you enjoy intercourse with blood relatives.” When a game is this big the opposing fans are pure evil. They’re pretty much not even really people, so naturally there is no reason to have any regard for their feelings. There’s no point for you to watch your mouth around their kids either, chances are the bastards are flipping you off anyway. They know damn well you can’t do anything back to them. Kids are clever little bastards like that.

Obviously everyone anywhere near the stadium is absolutely shitfaced drunk. Of course, unlike a normal game day, when drinking is for leisure, big game drinking is more therapeutic than anything else. The amount of stress that goes along with a big game cannot be dealt with soberly. That alcohol manufactured confidence cannot come fast enough when you’ve spent the sober(ish) part of your day worrying more than an old widow living in an increasingly ethnic neighborhood. All you want to do is drink until you can’t feel feelings anymore, just like after a break up, except in the long run this actually matters.

Before you know what’s happened, it’s game time. It seems like it came impossibly fast, but in reality that’s just the nerves and long periods of time the alcohol wiped from your memory. No matter how drunk you are, this moment is sobering. Shit is about to get real. So naturally you relive all the nightmares from the night before, have a quick conversation with all your friends about what you think the team is going to do, tell some opposing fans that their school is an institution for handicapped child molesters, and pound like five more beers. Then it’s time to head inside. Game time. Shit.

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