Although it will not be played until September 2016, the matchup between the University of Tennessee and Virginia Tech University at Bristol Motor Speedway is already being billed as the football game of the half century. That may not be an exaggeration.
Vol fans are a pretty loyal bunch. So are Hokie boosters. Put them together and you have a pretty good cross-section of the avid college football fan of Southwest Virginia and East Tennessee.
The idea of bringing them together to fill 150,000 seats at BMS has been talked about for a number of years. Soon it will be reality, and that weekend should be a big one — not just for fans — but for hotels, restaurants and other hospitality businesses in the region.
As we’ve noted is this space before, it is no coincidence that most professional football games in the United States are played on Sunday because, for many Americans, the game itself has become a religion.
Some, however, prefer to worship on Saturdays. That’s when UT fans from throughout the region don their Volunteer orange apparel and make a pilgrimage to Neyland Stadium in Knoxville.
The American obsession with football — be it at the high school, college or professional level — has grown into a lucrative business for advertisers who trade on the names and faces of some of the top athletes.
Corporate sponsorship of stadiums has become common during the past two decades, and is something officials at East Tennessee State University should try to take advantage of as they work to bring football back to the school.
Wagering on football also has become big business in the United States. It has been estimated that more than $40 million worth of bets (both legal and otherwise) are placed nearly every weekend during the regular NFL season.
Cynics often complain the American love affair of football is eroding the cultural values of our society. Poppycock! That blame must go to the fans who forget that, regardless of how much it is hyped, football is still just a game. And as a game, it should be enjoyed as merely a brief, but much needed respite from the real concerns of the world.
So fans, put on your Volunteer orange and Hokie maroon and enjoy the game for what it truly is.