NEW YORK – I’ll admit: I got a little homesick Sunday.
My social media feeds were clogged with expertly filtered Instagram shots, enviable status updates and excited hashtags which all directed me to one emotional conclusion: I was missing the first Baylor home football game in McLane Stadium. The gravity of that realization hit me harder than a linebacker.
Undeniably, football is a religious event in Texas. Among the comments I received when I was accepted into the Baylor Communication in New York program before spring break, one in particular was the most compelling: “Wait, so you’re missing football season?” This question was often accompanied by their horrifically confused expressions, both old and young.
“Well, I guess I am then.”
Sure, I knew I was sacrificing the hype—and heat—of Texas football for big city living. But watching the fall season consume the Big Apple, attending the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on my 22nd birthday, ice skating in Rockefeller Center and other niceties seemed to seriously outweigh the “treachery” of missing a season of Pigskin.
I’m a Texas girl; of course, I love football. But to some, giving up the chance to watch the Bears play their inaugural battle in McLane Stadium seemed unthinkable.
It wasn’t until this summer when Our Daily Bears released those hype videos with aerial views of the stadium that it truly hit me: I was missing the greatest season of football in Baylor history to date (in terms of atmosphere, at least).
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get a little down, maybe even misty-eyed, at this realization. I was there when we “closed the Case” and braved the entirety of the game against UT Austin in the blistering cold just to see us start fresh as champions the following season. As a transfer with only one year of Baylor goodness in the books, I felt I had made a huge mistake in forfeiting the “sailgating,” the rush of whipping out my best green and gold and the vivid memories of the first kickoff.
Here in New York, our program was invited to attend a football watch party hosted by NYC Baylor alums at a local establishment. I slightly considered not attending: if I wasn’t going to be at McLane, I wasn’t going at all. But I threw on my Fiesta Bowl shirt and headed for the party with the others.
I was surprised to see the entire place packed with equally homesick Bears of all ages, supremely jealous of the lucky few who got a ticket to the game. I definitely wasn’t alone.
While the game certainly wasn’t much of a fight, I chuckled as I thought of the coincidence that was happening: all eyes glued to the TV screens on the wall, gazing and aweing, as if we really were observing a “work of Art.”
My heart was swelling with Baylor pride that night just as much as I know it would have standing next to my buddies in the stands. It was a relief to know I could quench my Waco withdrawals around other Bears and Texas expatriates who were just as enthralled by the game.
That’s the beauty of the Baylor Line: it doesn’t matter if you’re in McLane Stadium, New York City or Timbuktu. Bear Country is wherever there are others to relish your alma mater with you. The Line is the essence of community, and you bet I felt it Sunday night more than ever.
As I learned from my experience mentioned in my last blog, there won’t always be a friendly hand to help me up when I stumble, but Baylor will always be there to welcome me home. Until then, huddling around a TV with other devoted fans isn’t such a bad deal.