Five to six days a week I find myself standing in the shadow of the Rose Bowl and I stare blankly at its pillars and columns as I stretch my muscles before and after I run. It’s “America’s Stadium” yet feeling numb to the history and legacy that is The Rose Bowl almost makes me feel un-American.
Every new year brings on the Rose Bowl Game and it’s something that I have always looked forward to. I went because I enjoy watching football and going to the game. I never truly cared who was playing. This feeling enhanced once I got to college and discovered that my school cut football in 1992, long before I got there, even though they had won an Orange Bowl (1950) and two Sugar Bowls (1937,1938)…but that’s another story for another time.
If I couldn’t find someone who had tickets I would end up going down to the stadium, cash in hand, and procure my tickets through another vendor – aka scalp. I was always successful. Up until yesterday’s game I had only missed one Rose Bowl game since 1999 and that was the 2006 USC v. Texas BCS National Championship. I chose not to go this year because I financially couldn’t. Not having a real full-time job doesn’t help.
But it was also due to game fatigue.
I decided I would rather spend the day in my pajamas, where the line for the concessions and restroom were much shorter and I didn’t have to spend any money. As it turns out, I missed witnessing a blow out. That made me feel better about my decision to stay home.
New Year’s Day was all about the Game for me. I couldn’t care less about the Rose Parade. I wanted to watch football. Every year people flock to Pasadena from all over the country and world for this game. They come to see their teams compete in one of the greatest venues in all of sports. Throughout the years I have seen Michigan and Wisconsin lose multiple Rose Bowl’s in a row, Hall of Fame coaches, blow outs (Oklahoma-Washington St) and close games (Oregon-Wisconsin), a parade of Heisman Trophy winners, and a National Champion crowned in The University of Miami.
But it doesn’t mean much to me.
I first noticed this apathy after Ohio St beat Oregon in 2010. I was standing out in front of the stadium in my green Nike sweatshirt and apparently I looked sad enough to be consoled by a few Buckeye fans. I smiled politely, but didn’t tell them I have only been to the state of Oregon once. I then overheard a pair of them say to one another “We just won the Rose Bowl!” It was then that I looked up at the neon “Rose Bowl” sign, lit up in the twilight of that January 1st, and reflected that this place, this game, meant so much more than the value I placed on it. Maybe this can be traced to the fact that my university doesn’t have a football team so I am forced to look elsewhere to get my pigskin fix. Or maybe I have been exposed to the Rose Bowl Game for so long that it has lost it’s meaning.
I honestly don’t know.
To some it’s their Mecca. To me it is just a stadium that I run around to stay fit and train for races.