I know that sports are ridiculous. I know that, to some people, the idea of paying, then standing for hours on end to watch other people exert themselves makes little sense.
That’s fine. I’ve understood that for a while, and rather than rejecting this, I’ve decided to embrace it. Sports are ridiculous. It is ridiculous that I’ve driven for hours to watch a soccer game between two losing clubs because I wanted to be one of the people who was there at the start of something new. It’s ridiculous that I’ve looked forward to every Saturday in the fall for Jayhawk football since I came to the school during the middle of the Charlie Weis era. It’s ridiculous that I dragged my entire family to a decaying Kemper Arena to watch the season opener of an indoor football team that only played one season.
I love stories. I love storytelling and I love the way that stories develop throughout our own lives. Sports serve as a primordial soup for springing forward stories, and I’ve never gone to any sporting event without coming away with at least one story. For example:
- In 2004, the Kansas Jayhawks football team defeated Kansas State 31-28 for their first win in the in-state series in over a decade. At the end of the game, fans poured on to the field and tore down both sets of goalposts. After a certain point, my parents, my sister, and I, found our way to the field as well. While I was looking down at the hole where the goalpost once stood (some students had left pairs of sandals in the hole for some reason), I was hit in the head by an orange thrown from at least twenty yards away. The headband I was wearing smelled of oranges for the next week.
- At a Royals game in the early aughts, I was playing on a small playground outside of the park, fell from a ladder, hit my head on one of the rungs, and fell to the ground, screaming and crying. I ended up being sent to Kauffman Stadium’s first aid, carried by my mother because I was apparently too hysterical to walk by myself. We didn’t even get to the first inning before I had us leave.
- At a Sporting Kansas City game in 2011, I left our seating section to go find a plate of nachos from a stand outside of my section. I accidentally took a wrong turn and walked my 16-year-old self out of the stadium. A security guard commented that my nachos looked good, then informed me that I wasn’t going to be able to get back in. I panicked for a while about it before figuring out that I just had to show her the ticket in order to get back in. It was the 85th minute before I got back to my seat anyway.
- I used a trombone mouthpiece to smash the ice covering my spot on the bleachers where I was supposed to stand before the 2015 Kansas-Kansas State football game, one that the Jayhawks lost by 40 points.
- I stood with nine other concession stand workers in a threshold between the concourse and the stands in Allen Fieldhouse to watch the final overtime of what was called the best game ever played in the Fieldhouse, a mid-January game between #1 ranked KU and #2 ranked Oklahoma. I wouldn’t have otherwise been in the stadium.
Sporting events are like stageplays, except nobody can tell how they’re going to end. That’s why I care about them enough to write about them, because the type of excitement, energy, and suspense that comes from sports inspires and creates stories that don’t come from anywhere else.
This is why I’ve started Football Hell.
At some point during a KU game in the fall of 2014, the phrase “This is Hell. This is Football Hell” entered my mind. I think the phrase can be originally credited to Jon Bois, but it’s stuck in my raw ever since. Later that year, I heard someone refer to Allen Fieldhouse as “basketball heaven”, and the dichotomy was born – Naturally, Memorial Stadium is Football Hell, and if it has to be Football Hell, we may as well rule Football Hell.
After 2014, I decided to start cataloging privately how I felt after games in different text files and notebook pages. I get emotional about this sport, I can’t help it, I guess, and if I’m going to make public how I feel about anything, the 2017 Kansas Jayhawks football season may as well be the start.
I do not intend for this to be an exclusively KU-focused blog, but my first project here will be cataloging the stories of the 2017 Kansas Football season, where I’ll be in attendance at eight of the games. I’m going to find ways and places to watch the other four games, from the WatchESPN app to the local bars to my dad’s basement. I don’t know where it’ll go, but I’m excited to see, and I’m here to tell what it’s all like.
I’ll see you on Saturday.