After much deliberation, I selected our entrant for the Hyundai Fanthropology Fan Loyalty series, the details of which are here.
The winner - selected from an outstanding group of essays - was written by UT__S, aka F-Bomb Girl, aka Sarah.
Yep, her. I don't think a moment better embodies the torturous loyalty of fandom.
Sarah is a senior sports management major at Texas, a hardcore Longhorn, and all-around delight. For Part II of our series, I interviewed Sarah, and by the end of the interview, you'll have some insight into the depths of her loyalty and an appreciation for the unique appeal of Texas women. The Q&A is well worth your time.
PW: We've selected you as our champion to advance to the next round of the Hyundai Fanthropology sweepstakes. Thanks for sharing your story and for reading Barking Carnival.
Sarah: Hi, Paul! Exciting news! Perhaps dropping the f-bomb will be worth it after all.
PW: Sarah, you did a wonderful job of conveying in your essay what it meant to "grow up Longhorn." Where love of Texas is as interwoven into your identity as your last name or neighborhood; a constant touchstone for your family.
So before we even tackle your Texas-OU television notoriety and the amusing outburst that made you a paragon of loyal Longhorn fandom and .gif immortalization, I'd contend that truthful a moment isn't possible unless you are imbuing the action on the field with something deeper than just an athletic contest.
Did growing up as you did invest the game with meaning beyond sports? What's at stake out there for you?
Sarah: I've always bought into and whole-heartedly believed in the "sports are not just sports" concept -- even as a little girl. This would later manifest into my major (sport management). Texas sports (not just football) have always been something that I have viewed as bringing people together. Whether it be my family, friends, or even just strangers. There is something about Texas that people recognize and respect (if even they don't want to). It's an intangible bond between a student body of 50,000+ and an alumni base of 450,000+. Cheering on one team unites us in a way that nothing else can. We identify ourselves as Longhorns and identify with the Longhorn community. It is our school. Our name. Our pride that is on the line with the games.
As far as what was at stake… I've joked with people after OU that "this is what happens when a little girl watches too much football with her dad". I remember if Texas lost (which, when I was growing up in the mid 90s, we seemed to a lot), my dad would be in a foul mood for the remainder of the day. BUT, if Texas won, the mood was completely flipped. So it began as not just Texas winning or losing, but my dad (and thus myself) winning or losing. I can understand now that it is because of the immense pride that my dad has in UT. Similarly, Thanksgiving dinner always seemed to be a bit more lighthearted when we won and a bit quieter when we lost. It was as if the outcome of the game reverberated throughout the rest of the day.
When Texas won the National Championship in '05, my dad and I cried together out of sheer joy and pride. We clapped, 'hooted and hollered', and went outside to honk the horns of the cars. (I'm not sure why we did the latter, but for whatever reason we did.) The next day I (along with many others) wore a Texas shirt to school. But I felt a different sense of pride. I was wearing the shirt of the school my father attended. Of the school that I would attend. In my eyes, I was on a different level than everyone else. I especially remember being called out by some 13 year old male classmates of mine who tried to tell me that I didn't even watch the game. I then spat out stats to them and quickly recounted our critical fourth downs that ultimately won the game. They smiled and throughout the rest of my time in school, didn't question my fandom.
However, when Texas lost the national championship in '09, I cried for different reasons. I cried because I was sad for the team. I was sad for the school that I would be attending in less than a year. But ultimately, my pride was hurt. I knew the next day at school I would be badgered by those same boys who interrogated me in 8th grade. This time, I didn't have successful stats or drives to throw back at them. I had anger with a shovel pass being called before the half. I had anger with excessively conservative play calling. And I had anger with every person who was insinuating that UT was somehow less of a school because of the loss.
What everything boiled down to -- what was ultimately inflated or beat down -- was my pride in UT.
PW: I grew up in a Longhorn family and everything you wrote resonated with me. As the youngest, I was initially tuned into the emotional stakes - you just want your parents and siblings to be happy, and as you get older, the team remains an integral piece of the family identity, safe common ground, something you can always talk about, even when you're irritated with each other. As a student, the players are your peers, classmates, friends; and, as an alum, the team is the constant connection to carefree times. Layer all that together and you have a strong recipe for identity formation. There's more than just a game happening out there.
Enough waxing poetic...
You are F-Bomb Girl. A plucky example, a Burnt Orange exemplar, a shining light of Longhorn loyalty. We need to break this moment down like Zapruder film....
Texas is getting blown out, David Ash fumbles fighting for yards on a scramble, and you capture the futility and frustration of the event perfectly. You cover your face like Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone, scream an expletive of futility to the football gods, and then hand tent your face again like you're witnessing a zombie apocalypse. Are you always this demonstrative as a fan? Any background we should know? How did you find out you'd made television history? What was the feedback?
Sarah: Oh... the F-Bomb.
What's funny is that during the Oklahoma State game I tweeted "Every other day of the week, I have a fairly lady-like mouth. But come Saturdays I turn into a sailor. Thanks, Texas Football." Premonition?
I learned how to watch Texas Football from my dad. This meant not getting up except during commercials. No excessive commentary unless it added something vital to the conversation. Talking about anything other than the game happened during time-outs, commercials, or at the half. And lastly, I learned a few colorful words and the appropriate time to say them. Because of this, many of my friends actually refuse to watch games with me. I am admittedly a terrible "social watcher". I have anxiety. I pace. I cuss. And I tend to be quite sassy when people try and talk to me. So yes, you can say that I am always like that when watching games.
On the day of the OU game, I was sitting with my roommate (the blonde) on the 2nd row, about the 48 yard line, behind our bench. I was already in a foul mood for missing kickoff, as that is one of my biggest pet-peeves. (I also tweeted that day: "Wanna see a pissed off Sarah? Make me miss kick off.) The bus that we were taking to the game was stuck in the typical game day traffic. Some friends and I actually got off the bus and ran to the stadium. Yes, ran. Cowboys boots, white dress, and all.
As the second half kicked off, I was still holding on hope that we could somehow manage a comeback. When David crossed midfield and actually picked up a first down I was ecstatic -- jumping up and down on the bleachers -- consumed with excitement. And then, he fumbled. I was shock. How could this be happening? Just when something good was happening. My moment of shock was when the cameras panned to me. I'm guessing the producers in the control booth were saying something along the lines of, "Pan to the girl in the white dress, she looks shocked." And then, the full enormity of the situation -- and what the game was becoming -- hit me. There was only one word to describe that moment and it was seen by a national viewing audience. After a few moments, I looked down and saw the camera. I told my roommate, "I hope he wasn't shooting up here, because I definitely just cussed very clearly."
Then my phone buzzed with a text that said, "You were just on the screen!" I responded, "The jumbo-tron?" And then... about 20 text messages came in the some form of, "You just dropped the f-bomb on national TV!"
At first, I was mortified. How could I be that girl? It was almost one of my biggest fears. Then I saw the video, the .gif, the tweets, and all I could do was laugh because it was pretty damn funny. It was the perfect moment to sum up a terrible game. Everyone else I talked to found it humorous as well. The first family members I talked to were my grandparents. My grandpa couldn't even talk he was laughing so hard. My grandma told me, "Well... Opa (her father) is smiling down telling all his friends 'That's my great granddaughter!'" My parents too thought that it was just hilarious. My dad told me, "Well, I was saying the same thing." And generally, that is what I was told. It happened. Everyone saw. All I can do is laugh and take what comes with a grain of salt.
PW: I like your family. It was such an authentic moment, that summed up what it is to be a fan on the wrong end of a score and circumstance. We're also describing an almost uniquely Texas phenomenon: attractive girls who know and care deeply about football. What started off as a Fan Loyalty promotion interview is rapidly turning into a Match.com profile and interview rec for your future sports management job. The offers are going to be pouring in.
I think Brian Cook, a Michigan blogger, summed up the national zeitgeist in his post-game write-up:
Say this much for Texas: they have some smoking hot women who genuinely care about football.
Have you ever met Oh My God Girl? If this were Tosh.0 I would find some way to get you two together for a Web Redemption.
Sarah: I've gotten a few marriage proposals since the incident, although I'm not sure how serious they really were. No job offers yet, but I am waiting for the day when I'm sitting in an interview and the interviewer gives me the look of 'I've seen you somewhere before...' followed by, "Are you the f-bomb girl?" It's sure to seal my fate, one way or another.
I've never met "Oh My God Girl" but I'm sure we would be great friends. In all actuality, I am thankful that all I was caught saying was the f-bomb, as I have said many more colorful things and reacted with a bit more anger in that moment. More back story: I cheered in high school and my coach would often have to tell me to "chill it" when I was getting too upset with a game. One game in particular, she made me sit down because I was too worked up. I responded with, "ARE YOU WATCHING THE GAME?!?"
I invest far too much in sports.
PW: ARE YOU WATCHING THE GAME!??! I'm laughing. The whole notion of being placed in cheerleader time-out is outstanding. So you mentioned your irritation at missing kick off and focused game demeanor. What are your other pet peeves as a fan? In yourself, or others?
Sarah: She clearly was NOT watching the game.
Pet peeves... where do I begin?!
First, I absolutely cannot stand fans who yell with absolute certainty and ferocity at the coaches/players/refs and be completely wrong. You know... the, "Oh come on, ref! That wasn't holding!!" when even my mother could tell that it was. Fans thinking that they are coaches and can draw up a better game plan after sitting in the stand for 5 minutes than the coaches could all week. But mainly, I cannot stand fans -- primarily girls -- who yell just for the sake of yelling. For example, I once heard this when the quarterback was about 5 years past the line of scrimmage: "Ughh! OH MY GOD, WHAT WAS THAT?! Just throw the ball away!" Or this during an onside kick: "What was he doing? That was a terrible kick." I've bitten my tongue so hard, I don't know how it's still intact.
Really, I just hate annoying girls at games in general.
Another pet peeve is people who talk incessantly throughout the game. I think this has to do with how I was raised to watch them. Endless chatter is like nails on a chalkboard.
Finally, I really really hate when fans leave a game earlier, regardless if we are winning or losing. I am there from Eyes of Texas to Eyes of Texas and expect everyone to do the same. In high school, I actually yelled at a fan through my megaphone once as he was leaving the game early. He sat back down and stayed through the end.
Within myself... I sometimes hate how worked up I get. During Justin Tucker's final kick last year (I was at the game by the way), I literally felt as if I was going to throw up. I get anxiety during close games which causes me to fidget and pace. I also (as is well documented) have the tendency to cuss.
PW: Sorry, I just had to re-read the part where you yelled down a guy with your megaphone during a football game. I'm in awe. If SB Nation doesn't see the passion and loyalty there, I don't know how to help 'em.
You listed all of the important pet peeves. A crucial one that we share is that you never leave until you've sung the Eyes of Texas, win or lose. It's embedded in my DNA. In fact, the more we're losing and the more horrible the weather, the more stubborn I get.
Sadly, we must sing the Eyes on this conversation, which I enjoyed immensely.
Thanks, Sarah. Best of luck on the next round of Hyundai's Fanthropology Contest.
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