During football season it’s everyone’s alma mater

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- On a very sunny fall afternoon 37,286 fans gathered Sept. 2, 2017, for opening day of the U.S. Air Force Academy Falcons football season. A new year, new starters, and the promise of a Mountain West Conference championship began on a glorious day for football.

The atmosphere was electric with Wings of Blue skydivers dropping at dizzying speeds straight out of the air brandishing various flags, including Old Glory herself accompanying the last to land. F-16 fighter jets screamed past overhead and thousands of cadets sprinted to their seats like an angry pack of headhunters chasing a chubby adventurer. Colors presented, Star Spangled Banner sung, ball kicked end over end and the game was underway.

It was Parent’s Day at the Academy, just to add another element of excitement to opening day festivities. The fabulous Falcons were on the field to perform the annual slaughter of a Football Championship Subdivision team, this time it was the Kedets (pronounced key-dets) from Virgina Military Institute.

Parents, alumni and rabid fans were witnesses to a 62-0 thrashing of the Kedets. It was not pretty, calling to mind some of the worst disasters in history, like when that one planet was totally vaporized by that big round laser thing in that one movie. It was like the Broncos playing the Sisters of the Poor’s elderly JV team.

But the crowd was happy and the festive atmosphere continued throughout the day despite the beating taking place on the field. The smells of hot dogs, nachos and popcorn wafting through the air, bands playing with palpable enthusiasm and the general buzz of thousands of fans gathered for a good time trumped any feelings of mercy the crowd might muster for the VMI players. The stands didn’t start emptying until the home team was ahead by half a century. People were having fun.

And that’s the real story.

There was a game taking place and the Falcons were impressive with 663 yards of total offense along with nine touchdowns. But beside what took place on the field, it was the atmosphere of a college football game that ruled the day. The weather, the food, the friends, the camaraderie of a common fandom, and this time, a home team win, joined forces to make for a Saturday afternoon unrivaled by other things taking place in the area.

Rooting for a favorite team is fun. If it is your alma mater it is more fun. But when you are connected in any way to the U.S. Air Force you can have a second alma mater, sort of: The USAFA Falcons. They not only represent the university, but the entire Air Force and by extension, the nation. These players will spend time serving their country and leading men and women also serving. The connection is something to take pride in.

They are typically smaller than opponents across the board, but nobody beats them where heart, determination and resilience are concerned. It’s fun to root for them. It’s fun to watch them scrap it out on the grid iron.

There are few things more enjoyable than a fall afternoon spent at a college stadium watching a football game and participating in the festivities therein. Catch one of the upcoming Falcons home games and cheer them on, you will not be sorry, depending on how many hot dogs you eat.

For more info: www.goairforcefalcons.com