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College Football Saved My Life

This past weekend, we welcomed back the college football season with open arms, and it got me thinking: Why do I love this sport so much? What does it mean to me?

I was raised in a football family. My father, Kurt Crain, came from nothing and ended up being an All-American linebacker at Auburn University, played in the NFL, and then coached for awhile. My first word was “fumble.” I remember him sitting me down in front of the TV when I was young and explaining the game to me — not just from a schematic standpoint, but also from the standpoint of what it taught him, how it saved him, and how it could affect my life. I hung on to his every word, and when Auburn played, I hung on every snap. My week was determined by how they did, and our love for Auburn formed a bond that brought us as close together as possible.

My brother and I lost our father almost a decade ago, but I still carry those memories with me. Whenever I hit a low point or things aren’t going my way, I remember how he used to explain sports to me, especially football, in a way that connected with life lessons. Football isn’t just a game to me; it’s part of who I am. It has brought people together, mended broken relationships, and helped take people from rags to riches.

While I am not defined by it, football has not only been my way of escaping, but a way of finding myself as well. The brothers I have gained from the game will be lifelong friends, and the moments I have garnered will last forever. So when that ball is kicked off, it represents more than just a play call, more than just a score, and more than the next big story. Football represents a way of life. The game has given me more than I can ever give it back, and for that I am eternally grateful. 

I know it has affected many of you in the same way; in this vitriolic society we live in today, there are few havens where we can enjoy each other’s company without judgment or assumption.

So, this Saturday, when you gather in front of the TV with loved ones and friends, know you aren’t just watching a game — you are watching a special fabric of our DNA. For those that go to the game, take a second to look around you. Enjoy the ability to be amongst friends and enemies, and remember, while the scoreboard doesn’t define any of us, what happens in between can unite us all.

How many of you sit around and talk about the best games you watched or went to with the people you care about? I would be willing to bet many of you have done so. College football helps smaller towns like Auburn, Tuscaloosa, Gainesville, and Columbia thrive. It gives people who may not live in the huge professional team cities a team to call their own, as well as something for the youth to look up to.

I’ll never forget what my father told me: “Son, the game will give you back what you give it, and that’s all we can ever ask for.” I love you dad and miss you every day, and I know you will be watching, critiquing all the linebacker plays.

I also know that for those four quarters we will be together again. And that’s all I can ask for.

Jake Crain is co-host of “Crain & Company.” the Daily Wire’s sports show, also featuring co-hosts Blain Crain and David Cone.

The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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