College bowl games turning thousands into 'football widows'

By Bob Paslay

If the 19 college bowl games leading up to today have not been enough, take heart. There are six big bowl games today and two others next week, including the national championship game. While guys across Clayton and Henry counties hunker down to watch football at home or at one of the sports cafes, it is leaving thousands of "football widows" to do their own things.

Luckily for them, there will be first-run movies at area theaters, some super sales at stores and today's technology leaves them with other things to do.

April Gay of Hampton said that her husband of nearly 15 years, David, "would be perfectly content to watch football all day, but I won't let him." She said he is "a nice husband" and voluntarily limits his watching.

The Gays are from Utah and have been in Georgia about 10 years.

"I will probably watch one or two of the bowl games. I will probably watch Georgia because I like Georgia," he said.

Gay, who is 39, played high school football in Utah as a fullback and guard on the defense.

"High school football is real big and college is pretty big there," he said.

April Gay, 36, said, "On Saturday while he is watching football I will probably read a good. But most of the time I spend in the kitchen making him food. I will cook for whoever he invites over to watch the games.

"I try to watch it, but I guess you could say I have Football ADD."

The Gays have two sons, age 12 and 15, and she said they may watch some of the bowl games, depending on what else is going on outside with their friends.

The Gays live near the Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, but say they are not racing fans.

Steven Buchholz of McDonough has an interesting take on the rabid college bowl fans who will be watching Saturday.

"I'll probably be fishing," the 44-year-old native of Wisconsin said. His sport from that land of cold is hockey, but since the NHL is in an owner's lockout he is not giving in to watching lots of college football.

"Up north, I don't think college football is as big as it is in the South," he said. "We are from Wisconsin where Green Bay is the big team and when we got down here I saw all the red Gs and thought they had miscolored them," he jokes. And then a friend of his invited him to a Georgia game between the hedges.

"I wore a blue shirt and I guess I was only one of about two in there without a red, black or white shirt on. We had to park and walk a long distance because parking is kind of hard to find there. When the team came on the field everybody was barking."

Jennifer Lane of Hampton said she and her husband of four years, Brian, would go to football games at Ball State University where they were students and "he watched closer than I did. I am not a big fan of football, but I will watch."

"We don't have cable. Whatever games he can get on regular TV he will watch."

Lane said she and her husband, who have two small children, will be taking down Christmas decorations on Saturday and will have the games on then.

Corena Smith, 19, of Jonesboro, said her father, Walter, loves football and her mother. Elizabeth, is a football widow who enjoys shopping.

"My father used to play a lot of football in college and he has always been a big fan of Georgia Tech. He works a lot but he catches as many games as he can. He is either with his friends watching or they are here. He sits down, has a beer or two and gets into the game," she said.

"My mom is the shopper in the family. Saturday she will either be out shopping or watching something else on the other television," her daughter says.

"She might be cooking for them. They love their pork rinds, but she doesn't cook those, she buys them."

At J.R. Crickett's Sports Arena in Riverdale where they have 22 screens, manager Ronnie Cotton said college is not as big as pro games. But with Georgia playing this Saturday he is not sure what the crowd will be like.

"For the Falcons we get a big crowd, especially for away games. We have a few Falcon women, but mostly the women are tag-alongs with boyfriends or husbands."

On a good day they could see as many as 100 fans there at any given time.

Football widowdom is a phenomenon long recognized by the nation, especially on bowl game days. In fact, one web site ( http://www.sillysports.com/101.htm) even has a simplified explanation of the game and the rules for those widows who find themselves trapped into watching or who try to get into the game.

This is, of course, a stereotype since some women love football as much or more than their husbands.