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Jack Stone Truitt Grapples with his One True Love

LEYLA DOSS, HOST: And now, in the latest installment of our commentary series, Jack Stone Truitt comes to terms with his one true love.

JACK STONE TRUITT, BYLINE: The love affair began in earnest in middle school. I was a TA for Ms. Bennett’s 7th grade math class, and I was bored. So, instead of doing whatever it was a 12-year-old TA was expected to do, I would head over to the school computer meant for algebra and slyly log

Socrates once said, “know thyself.” Well, I am here to say—confess, frankly—that college football is my single favorite thing in the entire world. I’ve forgone hiking trips on perfect August days, ducked out of my brother’s wedding dinner to find a tv at the bar, and bailed on countless nights out. To me there’s no better way to take in a crisp Saturday in the fall than spending 14 hours on your couch watching every snap, fight song, and mascot-suited fist pump.

I grew up in Seattle near Husky Stadium and the University of Washington. But it was those ESPN message boards that radicalized me. I would read post after post from anonymous usernames. Fostering utterly irrational, but completely sincere animosity for entire groups of fans based on who they rooted for. Do I actually know anyone who went to the University of Tennessee? No. Do I get a kick out of watching them lose because some guy named UTVolWarrior98 had an annoying internet persona 15 years ago? Why yes, yes I do.

Unlike pro franchises, college teams can’t be bought and skip town. The name on the jersey represents a university, a city, a region. Being a fan of a team makes me a part of that community. When the Huskies win, I feel a part of that victory more than any pro team. Plus it’s a cathartic way to affirm my sense of superiority over those schlubs from other schools.

There are more destructive habits to have, sure. But I’ve never dated anyone who’s been enthusiastic about their boyfriend being unavailable every Saturday for a third of the year. For Caitlin, who I dated on and off for a few years after college, it was a dealbreaker.

CAITLIN: I do remember when I found out that you were like going to choose college football over me, and I was like what the literal f-.

For the record I would challenge Caitlin’s version of this story. Nevertheless, I’ve begun to wonder how much longer I can afford my devotion to this ludicrous sport I love so dearly. I am in grad school, in a new city looking to meet new people. And I have begun to question the cost of those 14 hour days.

To say nothing of the problems with the sport profiting billions of dollars off college kids while everyone around them gets rich. I simply don’t know if I can keep up the commitment while also being a functioning adult. I have a life to live, a career to pursue. I’m 28. All my friends are getting married. You know when people get married? On Saturdays, often in the fall!

But how can I ever let it go? It’s been a constant companion in good times and bad growing up. Freshman year of college, at Syracuse, I’d come back from parties disillusioned and struggling to meet new people. And there it would be: a 2am west coast game still on the air, the most reliable friend of all. If I can’t stay up to 4:30am after a lightning delay only to watch my team lose on the last play--true story, by the way--then what kind of fan am I?

But not every relationship can last forever. Grad school and a season reduced by COVID last year had me watching less college football than ever. Like a partner who knows they haven’t been their usual self, I’d sheepishly turn on the TV, only vaguely familiar with the important games and storylines.

College football was always supposed to be there for me, and I happily returned the favor. Now, friends were texting me about that week’s game, aghast after telling them I hadn’t seen a single play. But for the first time in years I went football-free for entire Satudays, and life went on. Next season, I’ll go easier on the intake. I’ve learned to make room for other things in life, like a girlfriend. Maybe I should give Caitlin a call...

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