Thanksgiving is now over, or about to be over, and us Georgia Bulldog fans are getting ready to see if we can avoid a year-long brag-fest from those engineers who graduated in downtown Atlanta. Of the 113 times we have played each other, it has only happened 41 times, but when it does, when we lose a game to Tech, their fans don’t take the rare occasion for granted. They enjoy every second and make sure us Dawg fans know about it every day for an entire year.
My two boys were blessed with the pleasure of growing up in a Georgia Bulldog house. Some might call it brainwashing, but I just assumed being as smart as they are, they looked around at a very early age, and made a wise choice. And once they made that choice, it was my duty as a dad to indulge them.
It has been a great ride. We work together to find new reasons not to like our main rivals — the Jackets, the Gators and the Tigers. (My5th grade son, to show you he grew up in a different time, actually hates Alabama more than either of those three. He missed the Spurrier years).
As fun as it’s been, lately there have been a few signs that we may have gone a bit too far. The first was a couple years ago. My older son’s Odyssey of the Mind team competed in the World Championship. After four days of hanging out with some of the smartest students from around the world, he had something stuck on his mind. I pushed for him to spit it out.
Covered in guilt, he said, “um, Dad….uh, have you ever heard of a school called Harvard?”
You see, when I said UGA was the best school in the country, he assumed that meant in every aspect of what a school is. He’s a very smart boy, he’s not the biggest football fan and in his practical mind, when you say “best school,” he automatically thinks in terms of academics.
I fumbled for a response and eventually said matter-of-factly that Harvard didn’t have a good football team. He just nodded his head slowly and looked at me blankly. Almost like he was noticing for the first time that I really wasn’t as smart as I had made myself out to be. I leveled with him and told him about Harvard and said if he ever got in and wanted to go there, we’d see what we could do. And that we wouldn’t hold anything against him.
The second thing that happened was again after an Odyssey of the Mind World Tournament. If you don’t know, Odyssey is a team competition where students engineer some sort of problem and then have to act out a skit involving that problem. My son’s team won the world championship, and coming away from it I made the comment that Georgia Tech has one of the best engineering programs in the world.
My son looked at me like I had said something treasonous. I am about as hardcore of a Georgia fan as they come. But I do understand that you can do a lot worse than having an engineering degree from Tech. And I think he will understand that too.
My younger, fifth grade son though — no chance. He’s gone. If I ever even have an Alabama game on in our house, his face gets red and he demands that I change the channel.
Atlanta has become a hub for college football, and I imagine these sorts of dilemmas are playing out in houses across the entire metro area. Michigan families have the same issues with Ohio State, Texas with Oklahoma. Notre Dame with everyone else.
Our city leaders did a great job of positioning Atlanta as a leader in sports, especially college football. In 2014 we wrangled the College Football Hall of Fame away from South Bend, Ind., and put it somewhere where people can actually visit it.
It’s rivalry weekend gang. Good luck to you and your team, so long as they are not Georgia Tech.
Geoff Smith is a mortgage banker with Assurance Financial focusing on residential home loans for refinances and home purchases.
*The views and opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of Assurance Financial Group