On a perfectly clear day in November, when the Louisiana heat finally begins to subside, it is easy to see the beauty in an empty Tiger Stadium.
On Saturdays, these stands are dotted with purple-and-gold clad fans of all ages, bellowing and clapping and shoving hot dogs into their face holes. They will cheer on the players, referee the game and drink lukewarm beer until they tumble down the stairs and end up in the hospital.
But today, the thousands and thousands of empty seats emphasize Death Valley’s vastness. The highlighter-green grass and the lingering ghost of buttered popcorn assault the senses. It is eerily quiet, almost serene.
But I did not find God in an empty Tiger Stadium. Chills did not race up and down my spine. My heartbeat did not quicken, and my palms remained sweat-free. I managed to suppress a throbbing erection.
Anyone with good eyesight can see that Tiger Stadium is beautiful. The architecture alone is a statement to the billions of dollars spent making this place a weekend destination for a million people.
But for football fanatics, this stadium means something. It is charged with emotion – great wins, insurmountable losses and drunken debauchery. For the fans that live and breathe LSU football, these are hallowed grounds. Death Valley is the temple of worship, Les Miles is the high priest, and the players are gods among mere mortals.
After living here my entire life, I get it. I really do. I just don’t see it the same way.
But I can appreciate what football means to so many people here, what it has meant to the South historically. I understand that for many students, football season trumps all other obligations. I see that for LSU and the local community, game days bring in the big bucks.
For the rest of us, football season is simply a big inconvenience. When I look outside my window on Saturdays, all I see are a bunch of drunk white people wandering around and cheering for something as intangible as the idea of glory. I see teenagers who are going to lose their lunch on the sidewalk in front of my apartment and Good Ole Boys in huge SUVs who are going to steal my hard-won parking spot.
For us non-fans, Tiger Stadium is not magical – it represents a culture we struggle to understand.