“A Debaucherous Civility” - What the Florida-Georgia Game Can Teach Us About Civility in 2018

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The week preceding the annual Florida-Georgia game has been an unusual-norm in 2018’s America. Cesar Sayoc was arrested for sending 14 explosive packages to politicians, Robert Bowers killed 11 people in a mass shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, a convoy of desperate Latin American’s were making their exodus to the United States, and a mid-term election sure to bring further divisiveness from the politicians who no longer represent their constituents. But, despite the negativity in the news, I’ve found hope at one of the largest tailgating events in America.

The rivalry between the college football teams of the University of Florida Gators and the University of Georgia Bulldogs has started back in 1915 and has been played nearly every year at the neutral city of Jacksonville, Florida. This century-old tradition has brought rival fan’s together to participate in what is known as the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. University students, alumni, and passive fans come together to drink, grill and root for their team. Let it be the Gator’s chomp or the chant of “Go Dawgs,” people choose their sides and watch together as the modern gladiators compete.

In reality, or what you watch in the news or which politician you follow, this should be filled with mass violence because of all the discourse and divide in 2018. None was seen. Most people seem to abide by the old bar rule of “no religion or politics.” Yes, a few were promoting their political opinion or walking around with a scripture-laden sign and a blow horn sounding like a pious Hunter S. Thompson, but the majority of people were happy getting drunk and playfully chastise the opposing team.

Two ecstatic men were dressed as “Dawg Catchers” and were handing out mini-bottles of cheap liquor out of a dog treat box, which I gladly accepted. A Gator fan was celebrating her bachelorette party with her girlfriends. Georgia Fans gather around a large Jenga set and watch as one their drunken comrades steadily try to pull the block out of the tower. A local Jacksonville musician mesmerizingly played a rock, pedal looping rendition of “No Scrubs” where both team’s fans gathered around for the mini street concert. A drunken couple was having sex in public while unknowingly having people photobomb them (including myself). Also, many couples were rooting for the opposite team as they both held each other hands.

All of the alcohol, drugs and the rivalry should have been a catalyst for chaos. But year after year, election after election and game after game has shown us that we can take a break from the disagreements of politics, race and the economy. We can take a moment to forget and make new friends as we share in the debauchery. We can put on a jersey, set up a canopy and bring gallons of hunch-punch and enjoy watching two teams brutalize each other and get CTE for a free education. 

 

As for who I rooted for…Go Dawgs!

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