A New Vantage Point

Amari Cooper from close up.

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to cover my main alma mater, the University of Alabama, from the sideline. I won’t lie: it was awesome. I know people in the media aren’t supposed to be impressed by such things and most of them weren’t.

For some of them, they’ve seen the view from the sideline many times before and have covered such things for more than two decades. They have high-priced telephoto lenses and all that experience, so needless to say, their photos were much better than mine. Still, I’m not ashamed of the photos I got.

I suspect, very soon, I will be more like them. My photos will be of a much higher quality and I won’t be excited enough to text my brother Matt and tell him I was ten feet behind Amari Cooper when he caught a touchdown. It’s not as if I was star-struck or anything. After all, the players for the University of Alabama are younger than me and have to tie one shoe at a time just like the rest of us.

I guess there were many things that struck me about the whole experience, but the reason I was so excited is I was extremely conscious of how fortunate I was to be there. I looked up into the crowd and saw over 100,000 fans absolutely crazy about the Crimson Tide and knew many of them would pay a sizable price tag to be where I was. Last season, I was in the student section for most of the home games and had a blast from that vantage point but this was an infinitely better place to witness the action.

If there is a next time, I probably won’t be as impressed. But this time around, I took nothing for granted and tried to soak up every minute. My excitement stemmed more from the thrill of a new experience, rather than specifically being on the sideline of Bryant-Denny Stadium.

I lived in Tuscaloosa for two years and it felt good to return. I went to Chloe’s Cup, a coffee shop I practically lived at while trying to substitute coffee for sleep throughout graduate school. The fact that the owner still remembered my name was comforting because I figured she might not.

The key to the whole experience was the mix of feeling comfort in familiarity while also having a sense of excitement by experiencing things from a different perspective.

Another piece of familiarity was seeing Alabama beat Ole Miss, making them 25-1 against the Rebels in Tuscaloosa. What wasn’t familiar was a closer-than-expected score of 33-14. After last year’s 52-7 Crimson Tide victory, many expected more of a blowout.

Maybe it’s the same familiarity and excitement that makes college football so fun to watch. Fans can don the familiar team colors and cheer on some of the same players they rooted for during the previous season, but the results are never identical and the new season brings a healthy dose of new players to cheer for.

Sure, there was familiarity in seeing defensive back Dee Milliner make an interception and seeing Eddie Lacy run 15 yards for a first down, but there was also excitement in seeing Amari Cooper grab a 12 yard touchdown reception while sandwiched in between two defenders and seeing Christion Jones make an exciting 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

The college football season hasn’t even reached the midpoint. There is sure to be much more familiarity and excitement yet to come.