Last night was also the NCAA college championship between UF and OU under the politically fraught and controversial bowl system. While I am not a fan of the lavish attention that college football receives at the expense of academic programs and other sports, it is interesting to see the madness up close and personal.
Since the championship game was being held in Miami, and I receive no other benefits for attending the University of Florida so far from Gainesville, I sort of felt obligated to attend. Of course, getting tickets was near impossible. As a student of the University of Florida, I can enter a lottery to win permission to buy tickets to the game. Had I won one of these tickets, I could have paid $175, and would have had to pick them up at the ticket office in Gainesville - after presenting two forms of picture ID and a valid credit card. I later learned that OU students paid only $110 for their tickets. These were tickets discounted for students in the nosebleed seats. I'd hate to think how much seats in the front or middle tier might have been worth.
Still, lacking for entertainment in Homestead, I figured it was worthwhile to attempt to crash the game, or to go tailgating in the parking lot. Parking was supposed to have cost my small party an additional forty dollars, but we were fortunate to arrive a little late to the opening ceremonies. I say fortunate because the person responsible for collecting money for parking had run off to watch the game, and his staff told us to just park and to enjoy the game.
While we never got inside the stadium, there were more big screen televisions in the parking lot than there usually are at a sports bar. There was considerable food about as well. While we did not so engage ourselves, had we wanted to, we probably could have stepped into one of many drunken lines and taken some barbecue and booze from someone watching the game. We ended up circling the stadium most of the night, just watching the people watch the game - until we found an ideal spot outside of the VIP lounge where there were three giant screen televisions.
I was not entirely surprised to find that local fans were not as enthusiastic as Texas football fans, but few people are. You can usually hear a Aggie or Longhorn game long before you see it. Still, whatever their level of enthusiasm, these were still southern football fans. Some folks were friendly, and enjoyed the game. Others were more bellicose. We watched a drunken skinhead pick a fight in front of four police officers. We watched a man in MSU green (and not much else) bicycle by. Our celebrity sightings outside the VIP lounge included the Miami chief of police, former President Bill Clinton's heavily armed security detail, and the wrestler Mankind. We saw a lot more people in Oklahoma red than I normally expect to see in Miami on any given Wednesday. I got to try and explain the "Sooner" nickname to South Americans.
After a tense first half, Florida won it in the third quarter.
Then we all went back to our trailers.