Football season is starting to heat up

Published 8:05 pm Tuesday, September 2, 2014

I admit that college football is the sport that I most look forward to watching.  While Auburn is obviously my favorite team, as anyone who even remotely knows me is aware, I enjoy watching other schools from around the country.

The anticipation is now fueled by endless hype, primarily sports talk radio programs, designed to heat up the rivalries and get everyone fired up.  Any big time college program sends endless tweets, emails and Facebook posts to the loyal and faithful.  No old fashioned pep rally is necessary.

It was against this background that the Ponder clan, including children, in-laws, and grandchildren headed to the Loveliest Village on the Plains for the first game of the season; Auburn versus the Arkansas Razorbacks.

We arrived on Friday afternoon, checking into one of the many new hotels in the Auburn – Opelika area.   The Heart of Auburn Motel of my college days is long gone, replaced by newer, bigger, better hotels that just add to the cost of a college football weekend.

We headed Friday night to the new Auburn Wellness Kitchen, a cleverly named eatery designed for the Auburn athletes and other students.   The entire menu is gluten free, important I am sure to the many athletes that have never eaten much more than meat and potatoes.

My grandchildren captured the attention of Aubie, the cheerleaders and the Dance Line.  Henry, a rabid FSU fan who somehow likes the Alabama Crimson Tide (where did I go wrong?), said after getting Aubie’s autograph that he didn’t know Auburn was so much fun.

Saturday morning was filled with kids in the hotel pool, a necessity as hot as it was by mid-morning.  If you weren’t swimming, then you were certainly moving the chairs to the shade.  It was clearly going to be a hot day.

We moved our tailgating gear to the front lawn of Sanford Hall, with two tents to cover all the food and to provide shade for friends and family.   We got everything up just in time for a rain that lasted about twenty minutes.  With the temperature already in the mid 90’s by noon, the rain provided a brief break in the heat.

I say brief because as soon as it quit raining, the sun came out and began baking anyone sitting under a tent.

The humidity and temperature made it perfect for roasting fans of any team, who were generally wet from either the rain or their sweat.

We made it to the game, somehow set for 2:30 to guarantee that we would get the full brunt of the sun in the hottest part of the day.   The youngest grandchild gave up and went down for a nap before kickoff.  He slept until midway through the third quarter, just before the game was postponed because of lightning.

My other two grandchildren, already weary from the heat, got under their parents legs to be out of the sun and watched some movie on an iPad.  All of these kids were probably smarter than the tens of thousands of people sweltering in the relentless sun to cheer on their teams.

The game was eventually suspended due to ugly weather, though many remained until the very end.

I am sure that I have been to a football game that was just as hot, but I wasn’t 60-years-old. I didn’t sweat this much in the watermelon fields of my youth.

It was brutal, enough to drive a season ticket holder to watch a game at home in the comfort of air conditioning.

However, I am sure I’ll be back again next week, water bottle in hand, ready to cheer on my team, regardless of the weather.   You see, with just one game played, the season is just heating up.