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OPINION

GUEST COLUMN: Good neighbors make fall without football a little easier

By Peter Fischetti, Guest Columnist

I live on the beach in a neighborhood called Bid-a-Wee. Yes, it’s a funny name, but no doubt when marijuana becomes legal in Florida, it will be changed to Bit-of-Weed.

What I like best about our community — other than its proximity to a pretty nice beach — are the people who live here. They hail from all over the country. There’s Ohio next door, Colorado across the street, Southern California next to Colorado, and North Carolina and New York around the corner.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Ian Book (12) throws to tight end Cole Kmet (84) in the third quarter against the Boston College Eagles at Notre Dame Stadium.

But as you might guess, the majority are from Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Florida. And what they have in common other than a strong desire for fried food is representation in an organization called the SEC.

Now when I was growing up in New York, I’d often take the subway to Wall Street. So I’m familiar with the Securities & Exchange Commission. Five years ago, not long after my wife and I moved here from California, I learned that the initials stood for something else. I learned the hard way while chatting with a neighbor who was concerned about investing in the stock market.

“Don’t worry about your investment,” I told him. “The SEC is vigilant about financial crimes.”

His response: “OK, but I don’t know how they could do it. Keeping tabs on Sabin and the Tide is a full-time job.”

Well, the conversation went something like that. The point is, I’ve never experienced the obsession with college football like in the South. Oh, there might be an exception. I should have mentioned that I’m a Notre Dame alum, and we play football too.

Actually, when I decided to hang the ND flag under the Stars and Stripes in front of our home, I wondered about the reaction.

There was no need to worry. In fact, a friend down the block who had dyed his blood to match the Alabama red invited me to watch the game with USC and promised to root for Notre Dame unless they were playing the Tide.

That inspired me to build a Christmas display in front of our house with a dozen snowmen wearing the caps and colors of schools from Gainesville to Athens to Baton Rouge. Oh, and South Bend. In front was a sign reading, “We’re all one team at Christmas.” The News Herald even did a story on it.

That was in 2016; this year (stop the presses) is different. We’re already in August, and the New Herald’s sport section reads like something out of the New England Journal of Medicine. Where is the preseason top 25? The top 10 Heisman candidates? The four most likely schools in the playoffs? Instead we get late-breaking stats on schools with the most Covid-19 cases. (With baseball, the 15-day injured list has been replaced by the 14-day quarantine list.)

Football fans consider autumn the best season. To them, fall colors mean crimson and white, blue and gold, scarlet and gray and so on. Beer and hot dogs taste better in the fall, and no one complains when the ribs I barbecue during the game are a little burned. 

How sad it would be if the football season were cancelled, but I’m trying to prepare by finding alternatives. ESPN is running “Best of Synchronized Swimming,” which is fine except they’re showing the singles competition. Bowling is always fun except now they broadcast the gutter language.

The other day my neighbor Tommy asked me to watch some NASCAR race with him. 

“It’s Tuesday,” I said. “There’s no NASCAR on Tuesday.”

“I know, it’s a tape of the Daytona race in 1994,” he said.

“Why would you want to watch some old race?”

“Why not? I forgot who won. It’s like a new race for me.”

Like I said, the best part of living here are the people.

Peter Fischetti