July 4th--Celebrating The Uniquely American Game

With the 4th of July days away the Pigskin Stew blitzes across America to celebrate the uniquely American sport—College Football. Other American sports from baseball to basketball have gone international, but football remains our sport.

And on the college level the pageantry is most unique. This sport reflects specific experiences and passions of each school. Individual traditions grew alongside the game independent of oversight from a centralized league office.

. . . . . . .

In 1966, following a 51-0 loss to Notre Dame, USC coach John McKay said, “I told my team it doesn’t matter. There are 750 million people in China who don’t even know this game was played.”

While that may have been true, for Americans, college football is passionate, emotional and draws us together, while also dividing us by team allegiances.

I’ll always be a Penn Stater, just as a friend from Ohio State will always be a Buckeye.

Win or lose we root for our team, and the show goes on each week, each fall. From its roots in Ivy League institutions, the college football show has been evolving for decades.

So take a quick ride along as we revisit a column written in October 2010 to celebrate the greatest sporting tradition in the United States…..and don’t just take my word for it; here’s what one of our Nation’s greatest writers had to say:

“For at Princeton, as at Yale, football became, back in the nineties, a sort of symbol. Symbol of what? Of the eternal violence of American life? Of the eternal immaturity of the race? The failure of a culture within the walls? Who knows? It became something at first satisfactory, then essential and beautiful. It became the most intense and dramatic spectacle since the Olympic games.” --Princeton’s F Scott Fitzgerald 1927

A college football game isn’t just about the contest. It is the spectacle and the drama that binds alumni and families across generations.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL IS…

Wisconsin’s fifth quarter, a stadium celebrating a great band win or lose.

The showmanship and drumlines of the bands from Grambling, Southern and Florida A&M.

The repetitive and often annoying songs, like the war chant of Florida State, or USC’s Tribute To Troy or Michigan’s “The Victors.”

Rocky Top, Fight On and The Eyes of Texas.

The World’s Biggest Drum -- which is either at Purdue or at Texas.

The USC Song Girls.

Penn State students camping out.

Pep Rallies.

A student section wearing all white, or all red, or all maize, or all green. The 12th Man.

Toilet papering the trees in Toomer’s Corner at Auburn.