Georgians Love Jacksonville . . . But Do Floridians Love Football?

I apologize for permitting an entire Saturday to pass without posting anything, but my family and I have been out of town on vacation for the last week. Fortunately, MaconDawg was there to pick up the slack and two of my favorite targets, Les Miles and the N.C.A.A., provided grist for material after I finished rewriting William Faulkner. This year, however, I did not return from vacation to learn that Auburn had gotten itself into trouble . . . again. I hate Auburn.

(I know that's a lot of links to throw at you on a Sunday morning, but my readers seem to appreciate it and, apparently, that has become something of a stylistic signature of mine.)

While we're on the subject of stylistic signatures of mine, I am pleased to report that Kristin Davis is back by popular demand.

Because I was away for a week, I let the voting on the latest poll continue longer than usual, producing 142 total votes on the question, "Aside from Athens, where do you most enjoy going to see the Bulldogs play?" Nearly one out of every three Dawg Sports readers (32.4%) preferred Jacksonville, a sentiment with which I agree wholeheartedly.

The next largest vote-getter was Oxford (12.7%), most probably due to the beauty of the Ole Miss campus . . . and The Grove ain't bad, either. Knoxville trailed narrowly (12.0%) and the 10.6 per cent garnered by Baton Rouge left L.S.U. tied with the ever-popular "none of the above." (Some of the voters in the latter category quite sensibly preferred the Georgia Dome.)

Bringing up the rear were Tuscaloosa (8.5%), Columbia (6.3%), a surprisingly low-ranked Lexington (3.5%), and Nashville (3.5%).

The new poll question ("Which state is home to the greatest number of indigenous football fans?") requires some explanation. Susan, Thomas, and I spent most of our vacation in Sarasota, where my wife's family gathers annually for a week at the beach. However, the three of us left a day early so that we could spend Friday and Saturday at Wild Adventures in Valdosta.

This mention of Valdosta, Ga., is accompanied by an obligatory photograph of Buck Belue.

Over the course of our vacation, I observed a curious thing. Since (as Susan regularly reminds me) every article of clothing in my wardrobe is either a grey suit or an item of Georgia apparel, I expected to spend the week fending off smart-aleck remarks from every Gator fan on Siesta Key, but I saw virtually no Florida fans, even when venturing into town amid the Sunshine State natives. (In fact, I saw far more Tampa Bay Buccaneers gear the year before the Bucs won the Super Bowl than I saw orange and blue in Sarasota this summer.)

When we got to Valdosta, though, the place was positively crawling with Florida, Florida State, and Miami fans clad in all manner of orange, garnet, and green regalia. I saw more fans of each Sunshine State school on any one day in Valdosta than I saw fans of all Floridian Division I-A teams combined in a week south of the Georgia border.

This got me thinking. When I was asked what amount of money it would take for me to move to Nebraska, I answered that (meaning no disrespect to Nebraska . . . which receives more than its fair share of abuse already) I was born a Georgian, I would die a Georgian, and, in between, I would live in Georgia.

Orson Swindle then explained to Peter Bean that Georgians don't leave the Peach State. However, Florida fans seem to follow Orson's trajectory: Swindle is a Tennessee native, a U.F. graduate, and a Georgia resident. In short, Georgia fans stay true not only to their school, but also to their state, whereas, when you find a Floridian football fan, chances are that he'll be living anywhere other than the Sunshine State when you stumble across him.

This, then, is what I mean by "indigenous football fans" . . . people who were born in a place, grew up in that place, rooted for the team from their area, and stayed in that place. Is my observation about Florida correct? Which state can claim the most such home-grown members of the football faithful? Feel free to vote here.

Go 'Dawgs!

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