SURRATT: Wandering in the wilderness has ended — football season’s here

Published 8:00 am Friday, August 4, 2023

The days of wandering in the wilderness searching for something offering spiritual fulfillment and joy to the heart are coming to a close — football season is just around the corner.

The professional teams have begun their preseason camps in preparation for the season and the college teams are close to beginning their annual preseason practices to prepare for their holy grail, College Football Playoff National Championship game.

When the last pass was thrown and the final yard made in the Super Bowl, many were left adrift in a sea of uncertainty looking for a substitute. Basketball provided relief for some, and so did soccer and baseball. But for many football fans, especially in the south, football is more than a game and the best description of the southern endearment for football comes from former legendary Alcorn State and Southern University coach Marino Casem: “On the East Coast, football is a cultural experience. In the Midwest, it’s a form of cannibalism. On the West Coast, it’s a tourist attraction. And in the South, football is a religion, and Saturday is the holy day.”

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We in the South take our football seriously; we wear out colors loud and proud and defend our alma mater, whether we graduated from it or not, fiercely. We sit in anticipation of the start of the season and have developed set behavior patterns for the season. We eat certain foods and wear our “lucky” clothes on game day.

We’re up and down during the games and yelling at the TV as events progress, sometimes inadvertently teaching our children a new vocabulary in the process. The Monday after the game we go over the plays with other fans and even do a bit of Monday morning quarterbacking in the process. When the season ends, we put away the things we cherished during the season and try and live on memories until the cycle returns to those last few weeks in August and the start of fall when the stadiums fill and become the cathedrals for the game we love.

My preparation for the college game (I don’t watch the NFL) begins in late June and early July when I figuratively head north of the borders to watch the Canadian Football League as a warm-up to the college season. It sounds a bit crazy, but several southern football players have played in the CFL. As an example: former Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly is the quarterback for the Toronto Argonauts; former Auburn running back Shaun Shivers plays for the British Columbia Lions. Former Ole Miss quarterback Kent Austin played for the Saskatchewan Rough Riders and later coached several teams in the CFL.

So as the football season approaches, my weekends will be filled with watching the CFL in preparation for the college season, which begins Aug. 26 with Navy vs. Notre Dame. And that will prep me for my alma mater’s game against Florida State on Sept. 3.

Fans, the slate is out and it’s time to get the stuff out and get the tailgate stuff ready. The season is upon us.

And by the way, Geaux Tigas.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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