LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – I’ve never really been a huge football person, nor a sports person at all really. My interests lie more in the technological than the athletic, but there’s something special about a national championship that grabbed my interest.
Perhaps it’s riding the coattails of a successful group, or perhaps it’s something I’ve discovered after a recent national championship of my own, as a member of the Hutchinson Community College Esports team. Either way, I found myself sitting in the pressbox of War Memorial Stadium, among people who knew infinitely more than me about what we were watching – the NJCAA national championship game between Hutchinson Community College and Iowa Western.
Needless to say, it’s kind of intimidating. It’s a special experience, sure, being in a pressbox with professionals in what is technically my field, but it’s slightly dulled by the whole not-knowing-the-slightest-thing-about-football thing.
However, this isn’t the first time I’ve experienced something like this. Actually, it’s happened quite a bit. When I was younger, my grandparents, my dad, and I would all drive to Manhattan to watch Kansas State games. Honestly, it was a blast. I’d sit in the car all snuggled up with my Nintendo 3DS for about two hours, snacking on cookies my grandma made. Heck, I’d even hang out with a group of adults I hardly knew, still playing my DS and eating hot dogs off the grill while we tailgated. Eventually, we’d enter the stadium and that’s … where I would immediately huddle in a heavy coat because without fail, every time, we went up there it’d be freezing cold) and continue to play my 3DS, on occasion standing up to participate in chants for first down, or like a touchdown or something. In hindsight, I remember very little of the actual games themselves. I did like the pep band though.
Actually, there are two parts of the game I do remember quite strongly. One was a man who sat behind us without fail at every single game. This guy was probably about as old as my dad, and really into football. As in, where we sat at the end of the field, about halfway up, this guy would scream his rage-fueled comments down to the referees. Be it “That call was f***ing stupid!” or “Learn to play the f***ing game!” And for a small, anxious child like I was, this terrified me. That’s just about all I can remember, but it was pretty frightening. The other part is that at the start of every game, they would play a pretty cool animation on the scoreboard including Ozzy Ozbourne’s “Crazy Train”.
However, this isn’t an article just about my memories of football. It’s about the Blue Dragons hunting down their second national title in three seasons. And about how intimidating it is to be surrounded by people way more knowledgeable about sports than you are. All I can hear is updates like “Dragons are first and 10,” and I don’t know what any of that means. It’s definitely interesting though.
At the same time, it was my first time live-tweeting a sports game. And that was, for the first three quarters, a blast. I was allowed to put my own spin on it, to celebrate such a special occasion. While the Blue Dragons suffered their first and only defeat of the season – losing 31-0 to Iowa Western – right at the end, and it got really rough at the end, it was still a fascinating experience that I’m very glad I got to participate in.
Braedon Martin is a Hutchinson sophomore studying journalism. He is an Esports national champion, and the Collegian’s Opinion Page Editor and Managing Editor for Content.