Things I've learned since living in SEC territory

Published on: July 31, 2011 | Written by: Hayley Frank

A lot of you people were born and bred in SEC territory, raised on all things football, just innately understanding that “garnet” is South Carolina, and “crimson” is Alabama. And both look “red.” But you don’t say “red.” Or “maroon.” Unless you went to Mississippi State. Which is apparently something completely different than Ole Miss. The same way UT doesn’t really stand for University of Texas. And, sometimes, there isn’t one but TWO mascots!

And my brain just imploded. 
           

To an outsider, it’s all very exhausting. You guys take for granted knowing the ins and outs of it all, and you’re immune to the absurdities that sometimes (read: always) occur during game season. 

Now I’m from Texas, where I thought unhealthy fixations on football peaked. However, upon moving to Nashville about two years ago, I was introduced to a whole new, otherworldly sports viewing experience.

And I was terrified.

For example, I quickly learned that when a football game is airing on television in the SEC territory, large amounts of people flock to the nearest public viewing establishment, the only requirements being inordinate amounts of beer and the largest television screen known to mankind. Everyone must wear the color of their team, or else they will be shunned and chastised. I learned that expressing your incredulity at this will also get you shunned and chastised. So, at the risk of being excommunicated from the entire Southeastern Conference, I have chosen to list a few more things I’ve learned about y’all since crossing over from Big 12 territory into yours. (Go easy on me, please.)
 
1. Cowbells are the bane of my existence (and they should be yours, too).
           

Ah, the omnipotent, unstoppable, invincible cowbell, also known as the supreme death of me. As if terrifying, indecipherable chants and alarming victory dances that more resemble epileptic seizures aren’t already enough, Mississippi State has somehow found a way to incorporate little handheld pieces of metal misery into the sports experience. 

 
Cowbells are probably what you hear as you enter into the depths of Hell. The sound of ringing cowbells is probably what lulls Satan to sleep at night. Ever been in a room full of MSU fans armed with their arsenal of cowbells when their team makes a touchdown? I have, once, and I am still actively trying to recover from it, both physically and emotionally.  
 

2. Fashion casualties are rife and imminent.
           

On game days in SEC territory (and, in Florida, on all days), all general sartorial rules go soaring out the window, and tragedies in the form of football purses like this occur:

Of course, the consequences are instantaneous and interminable to the innocent bystanders, but no one seems to take that into consideration.  


3. After careful observation, I’ve concluded that SEC fans earnestly believe the players can hear them screaming through the TV.
           

That’s the only logical explanation I can come up with for this phenomenon. 
           

Last football season I had a little get together at my house to “watch” the game. I cleaned all day, baked a myriad of aesthetically-pleasing little finger foods, strategically lit and placed scented candles all around the living room, and brought out my best stemless wine glasses. It was a beautiful, serene Mecca of tranquility—until the men folk arrived and turned it into a scene out of Armageddon. 
           

I was legitimately horrified as I repeatedly witnessed grown men screaming at inanimate objects and violently banging on things—tables, chairs, their friends’ skulls—all because they sincerely believed this would help their beloved team win the game. Although annoying, I was able to dismiss it for a while, until things were taken way past the point of insanity—miles past it, to be exact—and their behavior began to classify as a health hazard to my eardrums and overall well being; it’s all fun and games until miniature quiches are being used as violent, bludgeoning ammunition.
           

I quickly learned the hard way not to interfere with this ritual (i.e. saying “Guys, GUYS, you know they can’t hear you, right?” immediately evokes blistering stares of sheer and utter confusion, coupled with an all-around repudiation of your general existence). 

4. At any given moment, there are many different games happening, simultaneously.
 
(Disclaimer: If this one seems like a no-brainer, it’s because it is. However, if you’re surprised or confused to see it on this list, then you have no one to blame but yourself, as I candidly warned you in my OKTC Bio of my extreme dearth of sports knowledge. Once, back in ’95, I actively paid attention to a sports game, and I still reference it to this day. If you ever hear me talking about the 1995 NBA Finals championship game between the Orlando Magic and the Houston Rockets, just smile and nod—I just can’t seem to let go of Rudy, Clyde “The Glide” Drexler and the rest of the Dream Team.) 
           

Anyway, the problem arose when a few of my Baylor friends living in Nashville invited me to come watch “the game” one fall afternoon. A few minutes later, my Mississippi State friends invited me to watch “the game” too. 
 

Do you see where I’m going with this?
           

“PERFECT,” I yelled too loudly, freakishly excited at the ingenious idea brewing in my mind. “My Baylor friends are watching the game, too. We can just all watch it together!” (After having only lived in SEC territory mere months, I could already sense the palpable rivalry and dissention amongst the football fans, and I was determined to bring a little harmony to the south, one football game at a time.)
           

Come to find out, “the game” the Baylor fans were referring to was not “the game” the Mississippi State fans were referring to. In fact, it was a very different “the game”—two TOTALLY separate things! No one specified this. Tricky, huh? Yeah, that’s what I said, too. They were even on at different times. Sigh. I am sure many a get-together has gone defunct at the hands of such confusing circumstances, but this risky system of game scheduling is not my battle to fight.
           

Why are there so many games occurring at the same time? How are we expected to keep track of it all? Who, exactly, is this Bear Bryant, and why should we care? These are the questions that keep me up at night. I am just one girl. Just one girl, trying to make it in SEC Land, and trying to comprehend why skintight outfits like this have to happen. 
 
Also, why skintight outfits like this are worn with reckless abandon and with no immediate consequence to the wearer:


 

(Author’s Note: There is one caveat here—the only time full-body spandex unitards are even remotely excusable is if they are being used to considerately cover up an ink-filled nightmare, a la Bray/McCarron.)