Friday, May 29, 2009

What would Lewis think about moving the Georgia-Florida game?

I was wondering what Lewis Grizzard might have thought about the current controversy surrounding the location of the Georgia-Florida game when I came across the article below, written in November of 1992. I'm not sure he would have the same opinion today, seeing as the game did go to a home and home during the late 90's and Florida proceeding to hang 50+ on us in Athens.

Dogs vs. Gators - Fear replaces fun

Jacksonville - The universities of Georgia and Florida, both fine schools, need to make an immediate decision to move their annual football game out of this city's Gator Bowl before somebody gets killed. Jacksonville can't handle this thing anymore. No city could. Putting an equal number of Florida and Georgia fans, who absolutely hate each other, together in an 82,000-seat stadium just invites disaster. This isn't the World's Largest Cocktail Party anymore. It's the World's Largest Crazy House. There are about 40,000 Georgia fans and a like number of Florida fans in the Gator Bowl on a Halloween Saturday night, and rival fans often sit near each other. The taunting never stops. Some of it is fun, but most of it is not. This rivalry has become so intense, it's primed for a riot. There already have been brawls. I remember a year when Florida students stormed the field after the game and tried to destroy it. A Georgia student rushed onto the field and tackled a couple of shirtless guys carrying away part of a goal post. Five or six Florida students then beat the kid from Georgia to a pulp. It was just as ugly and just as mean here Saturday night. Maybe worse.

I went to Georgia and I'm biased, but I witnessed behavior Saturday night in the Gator Bowl I'd never seen at a college football game before. When it was over, and Florida had won 26-24, a few of the Florida players strutted arrogantly in front of thousands of Georgia fans, and made obscene gestures. One Gator grabbed his crotch in front of the Georgians. Another gave a pelvic thrust and shouted an obscenity. The players left, but then returned to rub it in further. A man who I presume was a Florida coach finally had the decency to shove the players away. Leaving the stadium, Florida fans barked directly into the faces of Georgia fans. Georgia fans retaliated with explicit instructions on what the Gator fans could do with their victory. And to think people used to wear coats and ties to college football games, and shook hands at game's end. I stood in front of my car with a group 0 fellow Georgia fans for an hour after the game. We were insulted by passing motorists or Gators strolling by about every two minutes. A drunken teenage girl told us to eat something humans don't eat.

It's out of control. And it's no longer fun. Orlando wants the game, but Georgia doesn't want to play the Gators any deeper in Florida. The best idea is to make the series a home-and-home arrangement. That way the visiting team would get only a few tickets and there wouldn't be this 40,000 versus 40,000 situation, and more control could be administered. "I'll never come back here," a Georgia friend told me Sunday morning. "I'd like to get Florida between the hedges in Athens every other year, and when the game's in Gainesville I'll just watch it on TV. In other countries, soccer fans riot and kill one another. Georgia-Florida in the Gator Bowl isn't that yet, but go home-and-home before one Halloween night it becomes a nightmare.

- This article appeared in the AJC in November of 1992. Please check out more of Grizzard's work at

1 comment:

BFR said...

I understand Lewis's argument, but I wonder if he ever considered my position on the home and home situation...while it may occasionally be better from a football and even a financial perspective to have a big game on your home turf, I really don't want any of the Florida a**holes anywhere close to my Classic City. For the same reason and the sancity and preservation of my personal domicile, I hope that the notion to move the game to the Georgia Dome is quickly squashed, as well. Leave it in Jacksonville, I'll take my chances in a fight with 40K Gator fans if I've got 39,999 Georgia fans with pent up anger of the past 16 years burning in their guts. Go Dawgs!