M. SCOTT MORRIS: It’s time for hobbyists to get ready

I was sitting on a guy’s back porch Monday and asking him a bunch of questions, like I do.

It was going fine until he veered into territory that made me feel uncomfortable. I don’t want to offend you, but I suspect sharing what he said will help me work through it.

“I would say this summer is the least I’ve ever thought about football,” he said.

My jaw dropped. The pen slipped from my fingers. I almost punched him in the face on reflex.

I mean, we were less than two weeks away from the start of college football, and he had the nerve to say something like that.

What would his daddy think? Heck, we’re all in the South here. What would his mama think?

I won’t tell you the team he pulls for. Let’s not taint the players before they have a chance to disgrace themselves on the field.

Maybe that’s too harsh.

Besides, I’m exaggerating more than a little.

The guy was Michael Farris Smith, who has a respectable reason for his lack of football focus.

In spring 2012 his debut novel was accepted for publication by Simon & Schuster. It’s been more than a year and a half of getting “Rivers” ready for Sept. 10, the day his metaphorical baby will be released upon the world.

“I am usually busting about football season,” he said, “and I’m not that way at all now.”

Check Sunday’s Living section for more about Smith. He’ll be traveling the rest of the year to promote his book, but he’ll try to arrange for television time on Saturdays.

“I’m sure I’ll watch,” he said. “I just have no idea where.”

It’s right and proper that other priorities get in the way of football season. The world’s filled with things worth doing that don’t involve watching young men pound each other on the gridiron.

At the same time, we’re allowed our hobbies. There are people who collect stamps. Others make elaborate costumes and wear them at comic book conventions. Some go into the woods and shoot things.

My hobby is watching college football with a cold beverage nearby. It’s a pastime, a way to reduce stress, if reducing stress can include occasional bouts of primal screaming.

I was an underweight kid who strapped on a helmet and tried. Most years, I was among the worst players on the team, but I had one standout season in my YMCA league. Cries of triumph after that first touchdown still echo over the field.

Watching games these days has nothing to do with reliving past glory. What I was then and what players are today don’t compare.

It’s about enjoying a hobby, one I could do without if needs must be.

But like Smith, I’ll probably always try to find a way to catch Saturday games, no matter what happens, apocalypse included.

Can you imagine a heaven without college football?

M. Scott Morris is a Daily Journal feature writer. Contact him at (662) 678-1589 or scott.morris@journalinc.com.

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