Hyundai Fanthropology: Talking Texas Football Fandom With Patrick Banis

Erich Schlegel

Texas football fans can be intense... Patrick Banis is one of them.

Hyundai recognizes the incredible loyalty of college football fans, and as part of their Fanthropology campaign invited diehard college football fans across SB Nation to talk about their intimate relationship with the sport we all love. Some would say that we love it too much... BON reader Patrick Banis is not one of them.

When I asked in the first post in this series for readers to explain their loyalty to Texas football, Patrick's comment said it all: "It's as simple as choosing between good and evil. I, with no prodding from my parents, chose to walk in the light and that is the natural order of things. Hook ’em."

In a lot of ways, it really is that simple, isn't it? Patrick's comment certainly resonated with me, and I invited him to join me for a chat about Texas football fandom for the second part of the Fanthropology campaign. We connected last Saturday evening, right after Baylor buried Kansas State and Stanford ruined Oregon's dreams...

PB: Of course you're a lawyer. Half of BON's readers are lawyers.

Patrick: Are you a UT law grad?

PB: UT undergrad. Notre Dame for law school. Where did you do your undergrad?

Patrick: St. Mary's University in San Antonio. I was sort of a non-traditional student.

PB: Ah nice. I have numerous friends who went there.

Patrick: I love the school but I always wanted to get up to Austin. Which I did for law school.

PB: Okay, I almost have this chat thing figured out. We may pause periodically so I can cut and paste what we have so far. I'm still not clear this is going to save where/how I want it to.

Patrick: That's fine. It'll be like long pauses on a first date.

PB: But hopefully less awkward.

PB: Stanford-Oregon just went to overtime. We'll get started in earnest after that ends...

Fifteen minutes later...

PB: Wow.

Patrick: Crazy night for football.

PB: No kidding. Only thing missing was an OU loss Stoops Face.

Patrick: I guess we’re stuck with the SEC winning another one.

PB: Is it too late to get a Bama-LSU rematch lined up?

Patrick: Oh, please no.

PB: Never underestimate the incompetency of our failed media experiment. And after tonight? Cue the "Aggies' road to the national title game" threads on TexAgs in 3…2…1…

Depressing, and Texas fans are more or less on the sidelines for this one. We've Certainly been involved in these crazy nights, though, and that gets at the heart of what we're here to talk about. What's the first one that comes to your mind?

Patrick: UT losing to Colorado at the Big 12 Championship.

PB: TGTSNBN, as we called it at the blog for a long time... The Game That Shall Not Be Named.

Patrick: Ha!

PB: How old were you in 2001?

Patrick: 31.

PB: Did you handle that loss like an adult? I was 22, and I behaved... unadmirably, shall we say.

Patrick: Yeah. I was actually sitting in the Buffs section, but had everyone being nice by the time I left.

PB: Oh man, you were in the CU section?

Patrick: Yes. It was Horns down all night, as you'd expect. But at some point I'd had enough, so I finally leaned down to the ear of the obnoxious CU fan in front of me and shared my thoughts with them about respect... And then he bought me a beer.

PB: Wait, what? You leaned down, whispered something about respect into someone's ear, and they bought you a beer?

Patrick: Pretty much. I used to be very intense person.

PB: I'm getting that impression. Well, that's what we're here to talk about, so....

Let me ask you: what ways did that intensity manifest itself in your UT football fandom?

Patrick: Texas football could ruin weeks of my life at a time. In high school, I went to visit the A&M campus with my girlfriend who was set on being a Aggie. I looked around and knew at that moment we were going to have to end it.

PB: Did you kind of loathe her in that moment? Like you never really knew her?

Patrick: Pretty much. You look around and think what the hell is this place and why would anyone want to live here?

PB: I have this nagging fear that if I have children I'm going to do something to piss one of them off when they're 17 and they're going to punish me by enrolling at A&M.

Patrick: I could live with it if they were in engineering but I woud refuse to pay for tuition if either of mine enroll at OU.

PB: That's them effectively rejecting you, so I'd guess they'd be expecting to hoof it on their own. Horrible to think about.

That raises a question, though. We're talking about our UT fandom, and the first things that come out are that it could ruin weeks of your life, it made you hate your own girlfriend, and is fueling fears in me about children I don't even have yet. Can this be a good thing?

Patrick: Fandom is a tough thing.

PB: Why do you think we're so loyal? So committed to it, despite how much heartache it causes us?

Patrick: I know I am. It may feel like a bad marriage at times, but we don't stray. Unlike those Aggies who went sniffing around for some strange validation.

PB: We're not even going to get into the weirdness that is their fandom. But ours is kind of weird, too. We get really, really emotional about these things. Say some crazy things. Let it affect other parts of our lives. But we all cherish it, and tend to say that on the whole it's a wonderful thing. What is it for you that makes it all such a wonderful, if turbulent, thing?

Patrick: The highs are amazing. I remember jumping up and down in the living room trying not to wake up the baby when we beat the Aggies last year. Same reaction when Vince ran into the end zone. Same rection the year before when we won the Rose Bowl. It's the build up to those moments. Without the low points, why would those high points matter?

PB: I think that's right. And it makes you wonder about fans who never get the payoff. I wonder if it's the possibility of payoff as much as the payoff itself -- if the drug we're addicted to is hope.

Patrick: It springs eternal...

PB: How have you changed as a fan over the years?

Patrick: I'm better informed. I watch the game differently. It also depends on whether I'm at home or at the stadium. At the stadum, I'm in the moment. Yelling, cheering, giving high fives with everyone around me except the two guys who always want to talk about their investments.

PB: Ah, those guys. I feel like they're not fully human.

Patrick: I just want them to leave. I would rather have fans from the school we are playing.

PB: I mean, I have trouble relating to someone who in a big moment of a big game is anything less than excited. Like, if you're not into sports, that's all fine and well, but if you happen to be watching? And you have no reaction to it? What a miserable existence you must live.

Patrick: It's like the people who go to concerts and film the whole thing with their phone. I understand taking a few shots, but put yourself in the moment.

PB: Great analogy. How would you characterize your fandom? Like, what's your stereotype? Are you the angry fan? The over-exuberant fan? The rally-starter guy? The sunshine pumper?

Patrick: The game fills the void for all the other negatives out there. It's a familiar friend. I still get chills when the band enters the stadium. I love to sing the National Anthem, etc. I'm the realist who clings to hope. You play them for a reason.

PB: Going back to your answer on familiar friend, I think that's a great way to put it. It's a great escape from all the crazy crap out in the world. Our opium den, so to speak. And I think that you get more of that with college football than any other sport.

Patrick: I agree. That's why I love it so deeply. I enjoy Sunday football, but I don't plan around it. People find that odd, but I have to explain to them that the Dallas Cowboys don't have a school fight song, and so on.

PB: Pro sports are compelling for the incredible excellence of the performers. But it's missing that element that bonds a college fan base.

Patrick: If I catch the game, fine. If the lose, oh well. There's no attachment.... The only other sport that can move me in the same way is soccer. I love our national team.

PB: There are exceptions, of course. I'm a Steelers fan, and that franchise has a community bond to it. But it's a part of the fabric of college sports, which isn't the case at the pro level.

Patrick: I like the Packers for the same reason. I respect the Steelers but I grew up an Oilers fan ... But, I try not to relive that disappointment.

PB: Shifting gears here slightly, part of college football fandom is irrationality. Which UT football players (or coaches, for that matter) have you had an irrational love for?

Patrick: Sergio Kindle is one guy that immediately comes to mind. It started with him when I saw him sort of destroy my high school in the state championship game.

PB: Dude was bad.

Patrick: I knew he was going to UT and it was forgiven.

PB: Anyone else you loved more than everyone else for some reason? I had a thing for Chris Ogbonnaya, Lamarr Houston, and Lovell Pinkney for example. And Fozzy Whittaker, before it became cool.

Patrick: Major Applewhite, but who didn't love that guy?

PB: Yeah... that doesn't count. There were a thousand girls who wanted to marry that guy. Literally.

Patrick: My wife included.

PB: See?

Patrick: I really liked Limas Sweed and Wayne McGarity.

PB:Limas was one of mine, too.

Patrick: I wish he woud have had more success at the next level.

PB: No kidding. He even went to my Steelers. It was perfect. But he had a few key drops right at the beginning and it got in his head. He lost his confidence.

Patrick: It's painfult because I feel like we need to be redeemed by some players on the offesive side of the ball.

PB: We're about out of time/space here, Patrick, but I want to ask you a couple more things here before we check out. How do you think the experience of being a college football fan differs for Texas fans? Or is there no difference?

Patrick: There's a difference. For example, Texas fans don't schedule weddings on weekends that the team is playing.

PB: True, but neither do Alabama fans.

Patrick: I try not to think about them. There's a lot of cliche's but I think Texas fans spend lots of money trying to stay on top of it.

It's an obsession. Reading tweets, the blogs, the sports page, the websites, and so on. It supplants imortant discussions at work, and so on. We worry about kids who aren't even driving yet and whether they are going to like us in two years.

PB: A lot of that's not unique to Texas fans, but I do think you're on to something with the economy of Texas fandom. Ole Miss fans were absolutely floored by the invasion this September. They said they'd never seen anything quite like it, and that's saying something.

Patrick: What makes me proud is we go to places like that and le them know that we aren't mutants.

PB: I love that about us, as well.

Alright, Patrick, we're at the end of our chat about UT football fandom. Take us away by sharing with BON readers two stories. First, share with us a story that reflects the intensity of your fandom. And second, close us out by sharing with us a single moment that comes to mind that sums up everything you love about being a fan of the University of Texas football team.

Patrick: Can I email you the response to those?

PB: Yes. Absolutely.

Patrick: Okay. I'll work on that tomorrow and send you a response.

PB: I have no idea if it'll win you anything, but it will work great as a post for BON. Really enjoyed it.

Patrick: It was fun, but now I have homework!

PB: Ha! Welcome to blogging...

Patrick: I enjoy your posts a lot, by the way.

PB: Thanks man. I used to write a lot more of them.

Patrick: I noticed.

PB: Little bit overextended these days...

Patrick: I understand. I have the two kids and the job and that's about all one can manage.

PB: Yup, something will have to give when kids come around.

Patrick: I dread when soccer interferes with the home games.

PB: Criminal.

Patrick: Yep.

PB: What do you do?

Patrick: I work in civil rights. Fair Housing.

PB: HA! Sorry, that read wrong. When soccer interferes with Texas home games, what do you do? Do you go to the soccer game?

Patrick: Oh, ha! Actually, I dunno yet. It's going to hurt.

PB: Oh so it hasn't happened yet.

Patrick: The wife will have to step up? /ducks

PB: Again...

Alright man, I'll let you go -- email me those stories when you can, and no rush at all, if you need beyond tomorrow.

Patrick: Cool. thanks. Have safe travels and I'll send them to you soon.

PB: Perfect. Happy Thanksgiving -- catch you soon.

Patrick: Hook 'em.

PB: Hook 'em.

Patrick Banis: On His UT Football Fandom

It’s probably a bit anticlimactic, but I’m really the sum of small acts and subtleties. I wear burnt orange on Fridays, I won’t wear red during the season, never wear maroon, and pretty much follow the same ritual before every home game. I sing Texas Fight and The Eyes of Texas to the little one, just like I did for the oldest before her. I’ve taught my children that cheating and stealing are wrong, and as such, then being a Sooner is wrong as well because they celebrate stealing land and cheating. Beyond that, I like to be devious and will do things like go to the TCU book store wearing my school colors and wait to see how long it takes before I get accosted. Whenever they have a wear purple day in Ft. Worth, I make a point to wear burnt orange and the wife wears her Major Applewhite jersey to work on that day as well. Through thick or thin, I keep right on wearing my school colors and I never waiver in my support.

Despite all the subtlety and small acts, my neighbors grasp how important it is to me. I live in a small town (Aledo) just west of Ft. Worth, and I live in a small neighborhood where everyone pretty much knows everyone. There are probably five Horns fans total in the neighborhood. The remainder of the neighborhood is an assortment of TCU, Tech, OU, OSU, Baylor and Aggie alumni. Needless to say, I’m often the odd man out when everyone congregates and talks football. During football season, it’s not unusual to get the Horns down from the Sooners fans when they drive by. I usually take it pretty well, and just shake my head. After the debacle at the Cotton Bowl this year, the wives sent text messages to our house telling my wife that they had already told their husbands to stay quiet and not give me the Horns down … Imagine a Sooners fan after a win not rubbing it in. Just let that resonate for a moment.

The pregame ritual sums it up for me. The band marching into the stadium. Singing our fight song. Seeing the same faces I’ve seen for years sitting around me. Watching everyone’s children grow up and sharing stories and experiences with the people around me. That small clutch that makes up the 100,000 plus on game day is an extension of my family, I love being there with them. It’s because of them and the team, that I keep coming back every year.

Football Fandom Is Serious...

I have an uncle who went to Texas A&M and used to teach physics there. Every Thanksgiving, he would show up at our house unannounced and eat all of our food while watching the Texas-Texas A&M game. This was back in the late 80’s or early 90’s when the Aggies were a tough team, and had been giving us more than we could handle. Needless to say, we were annoyed he was there but even more annoyed by the fact that he was cheering on the maroon and white. So, for some odd reason, he called before coming over and mom warned us. I got up, moved all of the food from the kitchen to the refrigerator in the garage and then put a note in the refrigerator that said, "Sorry, we’re all tapped out." About an hour later, he shows up walks straight to the kitchen, looks in the refrigerator reads the note and then crumples it up. He closes the refrigerator and walks back out the front door and leaves. Texas-1 and Aggies-0.

--Patrick Banis

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