Football, like much of sporting life, has a special place in the culture of a place like Louisville compared to some of the larger cities across the country. This piece will look at a few of the ways in which football influences and manifests itself in culture in the city, state, and region and how and why this leads to some unique cultural phenomena.
Of course, we have a different culture here in the River City than anywhere else. But the special circumstances that come from being outside of the major leagues and - more often than not - outside of the national spotlight (at least in terms of the pigskin sport previously) lead the game to mean more to fans and to the local area.
Yes, there is a focus on high school and college athletics in regions like our own, but the cultural attachment to football is more than that. It seeps into everyday life and breeds both a special kind of fan and a special kind of impact on our lives. With the successes and failures of the Cardinals, the Butler Traditional Bears, the St. Xavier Tigers, and - dare I say it - the Xtreme, the tribal mentality and attachment exhibited by fans and local residents is exemplified. Not convinced? You will all have experienced the feel, the community aspect, of games and seasons as they change and gather momentum, even if you haven’t been directly a part of things. This is the power of a sport like football: bringing people together and influencing our lives.
So, how does football reflect and intertwine with our culture? Well, one obvious way is through food. Of course, we will all have had cooked barbecue or had a cookout in the back yard, but tailgating is just that little bit different, right? Entire mythologies are created around tailgating at various stadiums and locations, and entire industries exist just to meet your stadium parking lot food and drink needs. Check out this handy guide if you’re new to the pursuit.
As this example shows, football is more than just about sports. For each place that you find the game (i.e. in most places throughout the country, and, increasingly, the world), you’ll find different cultural practices and unique ways of viewing the prism of life and athletic performance. Football in places like Kentucky is different to hotbeds like Texas, Florida or Georgia, but this in itself develops something special.