2012 is the first year I will go to all of Florida's home football games in a year. I've had student season tickets since 2009. I say this not to let y'all know I was a bad fan — though, in some ways, I was, as much as someone can be a "good" or "bad" fan — but to stress this fact: I was an idiot.
Florida's game against Missouri is not sold out, and it probably won't get there, not with all sorts of tickets still available:
Student unclaimed tickets still on sale for tomorrow's game— UF Student Tickets (@GZStudentTix) November 2, 2012
Even factoring in several mitigating factors — it's 4-4 Missouri, the game is at noon, Halloween was this week and people will be celebrating on Friday and Saturday, Florida just lost a big game in a heartbreaking way, some Gators fans have spent plenty to see the Gators over the first two months of this season already, Florida's economy still isn't exactly strong — that's sad. And it's especially sad for students.
When you come to Florida, you're coming to one of the greatest universities in the world, one that will allow you to get a great education as long as you put in as much as you can. But you're coming to one of the greatest communities in America, too, a city and a county and a region that comes together on six or seven or eight Saturdays a fall to celebrate one thing fully. You are short-changing yourself as a UF student if you are not going to as many games as you can, because you're not learning about and experiencing one of the most sacred things your school offers.
You students who buy season tickets to sell them for a profit probably had that work out this year: If you flipped your LSU and South Carolina tickets for $60 each, which is conservative, you would have come out significantly ahead, and been able to essentially go to the rest of the year's games for free. What are you doing or getting with that money that is more valuable than being at two of the most exhilarating home games in Florida's recent history?
You students who buy season tickets and don't use them, instead sitting at home: I get that you can't get sunburned in front of your TV, that you don't have to pay for parking if you don't leave your apartment, that you can buy a more reasonably-priced halftime meal if you zip out and back home, that HD (and 3D) are entrancing. I felt like you did for a long time, and I had a better excuse (working Saturdays and watching college football to be able to write about it have been my job duties since 2009, basically) than you did. Again: I was an idiot.
I have realized in the last year that I missed a lot in the last five. I only saw Florida torch Tennessee during Tim Tebow's Heisman campaign in 2007; I didn't see a single game during the 2008 championship season, though I definitely could have scalped tickets and gotten in. (I saw Percy Harvin play live all of once. IDIOT.) I didn't see Florida escape Arkansas in 2009, and the Florida State game I went to felt anticlimactic after only seeing Charleston Southern and Tennessee prior to that. (I'm still mad about not seeing Florida beat Troy in the rain, too.)
I didn't go to a game in 2010, and while that wasn't a bad decision in total, I missed Trey Burton doing something no other Gator will do for decades, and missed a fantastic game between Florida and LSU. I only went to FAU, Alabama and Florida State last year, and I felt like I missed out.
This year, I've made up for it as best as I can: I went to Texas A&M, and considered driving to both Knoxville and Nashville, and I've been in The Swamp from kickoff to 0:00 in the fourth quarter every Saturday. I went to Jacksonville for the Florida-Georgia game for the first time; I'll be in Tallahassee to see Florida play the Gators' biggest game against FSU in about a decade. I'll be there in Atlanta if Florida lucks out at the Get-Rolled-By-Alabama Roulette table; I'll be at whatever bowl game Florida plays.
And it doesn't make up for what I missed.
You only get so many games as a Florida student. The prices go up from absolute steal to prohibitively expensive when you aren't also paying UF to educate you. It doesn't feel the same to come back as an alumni, and not be able to roll out of bed, shower (or don't, really), and walk to the game. You can power through hangovers better now than you'll ever be able to for the rest of your adult life. You never, ever know when Trey Burton will score six touchdowns, or when Jeff Driskel will look like an all-timer.
Go to the games, Gators. Get up and go.
Live up to that line in "We Are the Boys," and prove that, in all kinds of weather, we all stick together.