You sit right down at your family’s Thanksgiving table and are surrounded by the ones you love… and a few strays you barely know but who were nice enough to bring dessert so you nod and pretend to know their names for the duration of the supper.
You are waist-poppingly uncomfortable from eating too much turkey, stuffing, potatoes, your grandfather’s corn casserole and your other grandfather’s cranberry Jell-o mold. Recipes for both have been secretly handed down from generation to generation.
You sneak a peek into the other room to catch the score of whichever football game is on TV because a) you have money on it and b) your mom insisted you give up watching football to be with family.
The entire place is warm and smells like a pastry shop. You want more food but can’t… manage… another… bite.
More importantly, this holiday, you are thankful. Your family goes around the table, as is their tradition, and explains what they are grateful for, often welling up with emotion. This American holiday means more than others for it is an earnest and heartfelt expression of love and gratitude.
That’s all fine and dandy. Enjoy it because all that love is about to subside. In 48 hours, you are about to hate like you haven’t hated in a full calendar year.
That’s because it’s rivalry week. Put down the stuffing, let’s get ready to rumble.
It’s amazing that we go from such love to such hate in only two days. One minute I’m embracing with family and the next my blood is boiling with hatred for a college football team whose colors make me ill. If you didn’t go to a major university, then perhaps you don’t quite get it but if you did, you know exactly what I’m talking about. The thin line between love and hate is about 48 hours.
Florida-Florida State, Ohio State-Michigan, Auburn-Alabama are just the tip of the iceberg. We have Clemson-South Carolina, Oregon-Oregon State, Mississippi-Mississippi State, Tennessee-Vanderbilt, Georgia-Georgia Tech, Kentucky-Louisville, Arizona-Arizona State and countless others. I’m no doomsayer but if World War III were to ever kick in, it wouldn’t surprise me if it started on one of these Saturdays and ended up like the closing credits of Blazing Saddles, where one punch turns into a movie-wide brawl.
I can only speak for myself but there’s nothing quite like the vitriol that exists when Florida plays Florida State. It would be inappropriate to say that, as a Florida alumnus, I hate all our opponents equally. Don’t get me wrong. There’s a special place in Toothlessville for Tennessee and Georgia fans but the Florida-Florida State rivalry kicks it up a notch. I assure you those wearing garnet and gold will tell you the exact same thing about the orange and blue. If only they had the internet access and proper grammar to do so.
The same can be said for major college rivalries across the nation, particularly Ohio State-Michigan and Auburn-Alabama which are two of the country’s most historically heated football contests.
These games are just different. Even when they don’t mean something, they mean something.
So enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner and the love you get on Thursday. ‘Cause the hate’s a-comin’ on Saturday and it is just as delectable.