I’ve always been a huge college football fan. I grew up in Florida in the 90’s; the peak of the UF vs. FSU rivalry. My uncle was a graduate of Florida State, and I could always count on getting some pretty sweet FSU gear for Christmas from him every year. I would watch games every week, cut out newspaper clippings of my favorite players to hang on my wall, and I distinctly remember being heartbroken following a certain loss in 1998.
Despite all that, I hadn’t actually attended a college football game yet. One year my Dad’s alma mater, Georgia Tech, was playing in a New Year’s Day bowl game within a few hours drive of our house. So he bought tickets for our whole family, and off we drove to Jacksonville to watch the Yellow Jackets play.
That’s when I really caught the bug. You see, I got to witness my normally quiet Dad stand up and sing Georgia Tech’s...colorful...fight song. Most kids would be mortified, but I had the opposite reaction. It was awesome. Seeing him be filled with such a huge amount of pride, high fiving strangers just because they were wearing the same logo on their shirt as him, I was in.
I remained a fervent FSU fan all through high school, and when the time came to pick a college, I had the great privilege to attend the my dream school. The school whose logo had adorned my t-shirts since grade school.
I’d be lying if I said football played no role in my decision. It was far from the only factor, but it definitely counted for something. Sports had shaped my identity as a “Florida State Fan”, it was part of who I was. Getting to now also be a Florida State student was a huge draw.
I experienced something similar recently in an interaction with a nonprofit.