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Football Season and Family Competitions

Updated on September 23, 2014

The Deep South and Football

First of all, if you have never lived in the southeastern United States, you may not realize the passion for American college football that is in the very air we breathe here. This is true especially if you were born in the state of Alabama. They say here that when you are born in the state of Alabama you must declare a football allegiance. The big in-state rivals of Auburn University and the University of Alabama have one of the greatest college football rivalries of all time. Unless you have lived it, I am not sure you can really imagine how serious this rivalry can be. A few shootings and a tree poisoning come to mind as evidence. This annual rivalry game which occurs at the end of each teams season, usually the weekend before or after Thanksgiving, was actually the only college football event that made USA Today's top ten list of must-see sporting events.

Basically, if you live in the Southeastern states you will see that most of the people here have a passion for a certain college football team. In my former and current state of residence, Alabama and Mississippi, that team will most likely be an SEC (Southeastern Conference) football team. (So you might be able to imagine how much we are loving the new ESPN SEC Network television channel in this part of the country!)

With all of that being said, I grew up as a girl surrounded by football. I went to an SEC college and have a passion for my college team. When Fall begins, there is a feeling of college football in the air. You wake up on a Saturday morning with a quickened pulse thinking about your team's upcoming game that day. As a result, on Sunday morning you wake up thinking about the great victory or painful defeat.


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College Bowl Picks

When I was in college, a dear friend and roommate, told me about about how her family and extended family all joined together to predict the winners of all the college bowl games. The person with the best record won and had the bragging rights in the family.

I thought this sounded like a lot of fun so I mentioned it to my family, and we started our own tradition. Back then it was just my parents, brother, aunt and me. As son-in-laws, daughter-in-laws and grandchildren have been added to the family our bowl picks group has grown. At the end of each college football regular season in December, we research to find a list of the bowl games and opponents. We each print out a list and circle our "picks". We then proceed to all watch and be interested in teams playing that sometimes we haven't watched all season or know little about. I am sure San Jose State is a wonderful school but being in far proximity to MS I am basically unfamiliar with it. However, if I have picked them as my winning team in the bowl pick game, I will cheer passionately, with heart racing for them to pull out the victory. For several weeks, we are engrossed in cheering for teams we know and the miracle wins of teams that are totally unconnected to us. We text and talk back and forth with a little good-natured smack talk. With a lot of good Southern Baptists in the family, we don't put any money on it, but have an official trophy and most importantly bragging rights on the line.

The best part about it is our extended family grows closer and feels more bonded with common interest and communication during this time. There will be a new system in place this year with the first college playoff system for the bowl games. It remains to be seen how this will change our "bowl picks", but there will still be games to watch and winners to chose!

Ward Off Those Holiday Blues

Our family has a great time with the "Bowl Picks" each year! We all look forward to it, and as an added bonus, it helps ward off those after Christmas blahs. Frequently, I feel really down after the holidays. Since our bowl picks started, we all have something to keep us excited and carry us through those traditionally depressing post holiday doldrums. The bowl games usually run through the first week of January and even get you past New Year's Day.

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New Love for the NFL

Growing up, I did watch NFL games with my father. The team in closest proximity to us was the New Orleans Saints so that was the team that usually received our cheers. Also, I always loved an underdog and this was back in the years that the Saints were notoriously losing. There were many Boudreaux jokes told about hell freezing over before the Saints would ever win a Super Bowl.

As I moved on to college and then on my own, I did not have much interest in the NFL for a while. Then, in the last few years, my husband started playing fantasy football with a group of guys from our church. Every Sunday during the regular NFL season, we would rush home to watch the games and see how his fantasy players were faring. Many screams of exhilaration and disgust were heard for the next few hours. Suddenly, I was interested in the NFL games and teams again. All this excitement starting rubbing off on my middle school aged son, who has a love of all things football. He wanted to play in a fantasy league like his dad. So, I called around to our bowl picks group in the family, and we came up with a Family Fantasy League last year. We used the free Fantasy Sports system on-line at the Yahoo Sports website, drafted and let the fun begin. It obviously went over well, because we just had our 2nd Family Fantasy League draft a few nights ago!

Turkey Day Challenge

A few years ago, my husband was listening to a sports talk show on the satellite radio and heard a speaker talk about how his family did a fantasy football day challenge just for the professional football games on Thanksgiving Day. My husband thought this would be fun for us to try as a family as well. So after a little research on-line, we came up with a list of players and did an over- the-phone draft. I used an on-line randomizing tool to come up with the draft order.

So on Thanksgiving Day, our family had a little bonus fun hanging out together and watching football after the big meal with the family. Our family's Turkey Day Challenge had begun!

Final Thoughts

So in closing, certainly, your family should have more than just football to bring you together. However, our family has been able to use this sport we all enjoy as a way to bring our family closer.

You can even learn some good sportsmanship and conflict resolution skills as there are plenty of divided loyalties in the family. My favorite side benefit is that playing College Bowl Picks and Fantasy Football is a nice way for a mom to gain some cool points with her son!


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    • cpaldridge profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Aldridge 

      4 years ago from MS

      Thanks Kile! I know you must have enjoyed the Rebels great season this year! And your wife must be happy about the UGA win today! I am actually having my best bowl year yet so far! I have only lost 6 so far (LSU messed me up today!!) which is way better than my record usually at this point! (not that I keep pointing out my good record to my brother or anything;)) Enjoy the bowls! I will be saying Hotty Toddy for my husband and son tomorrow and War Eagle for me on New Year's Day!

    • Kile Taylor profile image

      Kile Taylor 

      4 years ago from Roanoke, VA

      Great article! I was born in Memphis and raised in North Mississippi, so I know what you are talking about when it comes to football season. I was in a Hotty Toddy house hold, even though the Rebs were real bad when I was growing up. My wife went to UGA, so we are a football house hold, now that the Rebels are competitive maybe we should your game. Great read and good luck in the Bowls.


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