I started attending the University of Georgia in 1980 and have been a huge Dawg fan ever since! Fall weekends back then were always filled with a band party at the fraternity house on Friday nights and then the whole gang of us would walk over to Sanford stadium and cheer on our team. As a teenager I looked quite different. For starters I had a head full of dark brown hair, boundless energy and required very little sleep. It was an exciting time to be at UGA because Coach Dooley was in charge and Hershel Walker was a phenomenon. It was one of the best seasons of UGA football in history and made Coach Vince Dooley and Hershel Walker legends. I could not have asked for anything more exciting and felt great pride to be a part of something so much bigger than myself.
Fast forward to last season 2019-20. For the past few decades at the home games, one of my fraternity brothers arrives early (around 5am) and sits down to hold our spot on South Lumpkin Street by the parking deck where we have been tailgating since the late 80's. At 7am UGA allows the tents to be set up along with tables and chairs to get ready for the crowd. It is great fun to see all of these lifelong buddies who now bring their wives, sons, daughters and sometimes even grandchildren with them. It is a part of my life, holding many fond memories of past fun and fellowship that I will always cherish.
This year, with the unpredictability of Covid 19 we will not have tailgating. That will be replaced with social distancing, CDC guidelines and masks. The normal capacity of 92,746 seats in Sanford stadium will be reduced to 18,500-23,000 seats with 3000 of the seats set aside for students. I have been a season ticket holder with the same seats since 1986. Life between the hedges is no longer the same. This is true for many sports. I was watching the Braves and had to laugh at the card stock people and dogs in the audience. For the athletes who are used to fans cheering in a packed stadium with the high energy, pump music playing, video highlights of the players, silly games that the crowd has fun participating in, cheerleaders and the band this is a huge change.
I don't know what the football season will bring this year and for sports in general but will cherish the memories that I have. I, like many around the world am looking forward to the Covid 19 vaccination and am grateful for the scientists working around the clock to develop it. What was normal for my entire lifetime has been changed and what I am most aware of now is how much I appreciate everything that I took for granted for so long.
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