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Photo courtesy of Ken Lund via Flickr, some rights reserved (2013).

FWIW, the BYU-UT game got a somewhat confusing/confused reaction from me (BYU-40, UT-21): on the one hand, my Cougars won, YAY! 🙂 Then again, my Longhorns got manhandled, BOO! 😦 Yeah, I’m a mess. 😛

I have a love-hate relationship with football. (American football, not what the rest of the world calls football and Americans insist on calling soccer, for reasons that escape me entirely.)

With the exception of a handful of years as an adult, I’ve been around football — at every level from high school to pro — in some way, shape, or form for almost three decades. Johnny Lingo being the die-hard bleed-blue BYU Cougars fan that he is, Glam was quickly caught up in the excitement and energy of college football. Me? Spending this much time around football again meant confronting some significant, personal, painful parts of a former life. (No, I’m not going to publicly rehash them. That’s almost as disturbing as picking at a huge scab in public. Ew. Nobody wants to see that.)

So trusting Johnny Lingo to not fumble the ball (kinda funny — he played QB, not receiver. Whatever. Work with me.), I stepped ever-so-cautiously back into the gridiron world… And eventually I found myself shouting “goooooOOOOO COUGARS!” in my own fan jersey, along with the thousands of other devoted Cougar fans packed into the stands at LaVell Edwards Stadium (which isn’t exactly small: it seats more than 63,000 people). It’s official: I bleed BYU blue.

Actually, bleeding is the one thing about football that’s always freaked me out. Not just bleeding, either — ANY kind of injury, bloody or not, especially on the field during play. I hate Hate HATE seeing a player go down, I don’t care whose team he’s on. My heart races and I get a big knot in my stomach, and it’s not until I see him leaving the field, hopefully under his own steam, that I can begin to relax my white-knuckle death grip on my poor husband’s knee or arm.

The most serious injury I ever witnessed personally was our HS QB getting sacked in a rivalry game back home in Texas — the kid was carried off the field on a stretcher; he ended up paraplegic, completely losing the use of his legs. I was on the sidelines with the drum corps when it happened, and because of where the opposition took down our QB, I had an up-close-and-personal view. EVERY. TIME. I see a player go down on the field, *THAT is the terrifying, life-altering scene that flashes through my head. And I almost panic — for his sake. For his parents. For his siblings and cousins. For his girlfriend (or his wife). For everyone who cares about him. Not “just” as an athlete; as a person.

* Honestly, that’s the only reason I’m grateful I missed the years that Johnny Lingo played. He’s still got a heck of an arm. But I’d be an absolute wreck every time he got hit. (Of course, whoever hit him would likely be a wreck, too — it’d be like hitting a wall. But I digress.)

So I don’t care if it’s BYU’s Jamaal Williams down with a possible neck injury during the *Holy War rivalry game with the University of Utah (Utah-21, BYU-13) or Aggie Chuckie Keeton with a serious knee injury (sadly, one of the best college QBs will be out the rest of the season) sustained in the first quarter of the smaller BYU–Utah State rivalry game last night (BYU-31, Utah State-14), football injuries scare me to pieces.

*FTR, this rivalry has gotten really ugly. REALLY ugly. Even people with no direct interest in the rivalry have said as much. For me it’s not even fun anymore; I’m glad they’re taking a break for the next two years — maybe it’ll give the rude, disrespectful, infantile fans on both sides time to grow up.

The Cougar-Aggie rivalry, OTOH, while heated, at least seems to have some class. Exhibit A: this awesome thread on CougarBoard. THIS is a decent rivalry.

Please, football fans, remember: that man out there is someone’s husband/father/boyfriend/son/brother/uncle/friend. He’s doing his best to play a grueling sport that’s fraught with risk of physical injury. Some of those injuries are severe; some are even permanent. His wife/kids/girlfriend/parents/siblings/nieces and nephews/friends are probably worried to pieces about him as he’s laying there on the field. So please, be considerate. Be respectful. Have some dignity. We don’t have to be rude and vulgar to have fun. This is, after all, still a GAME — games are supposed to be FUN!

Besides, when you get right down to it, we’re basically cheering for laundry (thank you, Jerry Seinfeld, for that genius bit of sports insight). 😉