This weekend will mark the beginning of football season — unless you count tonight when UCF shows up in Akron to play the Zips.
It'll be a grueling 14 weeks. The insane time commitment. The willingness to shut out all other priorities on game day. The mental toughness necessary to get through the season's ups and the downs. The training necessary to stay in shape on the football diet.
And those are just my hardships. I can't begin to imagine what the players go through.
In Florida, fall football is a way of life.
It controls our weekends. It dictates which household chores get done and when. It eats into our work day because there's so much sports coverage to follow. (Not my work day — I wrote this entire column so I could have an excuse to read football articles.)
And from now on my yard may or may not get mowed (sorry, neighbors) depending on how early we have to leave on Saturdays for The Swamp — and how late we return.
If you've made a conscious effort this week to dig out your favorite beer koozie or study player stats in preparation for your fantasy league draft, then you know what I'm talking about.
I'm not alone. I can't be the only mother who proudly hung a framed baby bib signed by Tim Tebow next to her firstborn's crib.
I'm not even that extreme. I know people who have tried to get their babies signed by Tebow. OK, I would have done that too given the opportunity.
My point is that our lives change this time of year. March gets its madness, but it's nothing compared to fall's frenzy.
So as the Knights head off to wherever to play the Zips (yes, it's a real team if you consider a kangaroo an acceptable mascot for a real team) here are some answers to your questions about adjusting to life with football:
What can I do to mentally prepare?
Easy. We have an annual viewing of "Rudy." There are tears. My husband's, not mine. But we both get the message. It's all about heart. Don't bother with "The Blind Side" — too much Sandra Bullock and her phony Southern accent. Or "We Are Marshall." Too sad. If someone mentions "Waterboy," just walk away.
How do I manage my time when I have to devote so much of it to games? And SportsCenter?
For the most extreme among us, you have a three-day commitment on your hands. Friday night high school football fades into college football on Saturday before the NFL on Sunday. There is no hope for this person.
The rest of us can swing it with a few small sacrifices. I stayed up late all week to re-upholster some chairs for my kitchen table because I know it won't happen this weekend. You just make it work. Do you think Will Muschamp sleeps?
What is the best way to handle trash-talking in the office?
Win. Or ask the nearest 'Noles fan for coping advice.
Why wait until Monday? Can I trash-talk my friends and co-workers during the game?
Facebook and Twitter make this tempting. But I would counsel caution. The trash will get heaped back on you tenfold if you dish it out prematurely and then your team blows it.
As a Gator, I have many years experience as a champion, but I also know momentum can turn against you — fast.
Is it OK to plan a wedding or the birth of a child between August and December?
No. This is almost as stupid as Urban Meyer's Twitter rule.
Should I wear my team gear to the office on Friday for College Colors Day?
Knock yourself out. But no designated day is required. In this state, team colors pass for formalwear during the fall.
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