Special to Page 2
EDITOR'S NOTE: Erica Lucero, a sophomore at Southern Cal, will provide Page 2 with periodic updates from campus this season as the Trojans attempt to win their third consecutive national championship.
I'm not going to lie. One of the last times I played football, I broke my middle finger trying to catch the ball.
The next time I played, at Newport Beach, I watched my friend get a black eye being tackled, and I came to a realization: I was never going to make it to the NFL.
That was two years ago. I might have lost the will to play, but I can safely say I'll never lose the will to watch. This Saturday night is our first home game, against Arkansas. Needless to say, it's a big deal.
There's something about game day. You wake up, and immediately you feel different. Maybe it's that you partied too hard the night before, or maybe you just want to see Reggie Bush do a flying somersault into the end zone. Whatever does the trick for you, one thing's for sure at USC: You're going to be in attendance at a massacre later that day.
Electricity seems to be in the air as you slide out of bed. Clothing choice for the day is a given. You search for your relatively clean pair of jeans, then throw on the thing that makes the look: the cardinal-and-gold T-shirt. Anyone who has been to a USC game knows it's all about the upper half.
My personal favorite is the one that declares, on the front, "practice safe sex " -- and then on the back, "make love with a Trojan," accompanied by a bad reproduction of a very famous wrapper. Another winner is emblazoned with "UCLA vs. USC, you get what you pay for." Cent and dollar signs are inserted in the appropriate spaces.
Of course, these T-shirts are not to be found in the bookstore. A man comes around to the dorms, very illegally, and sells them on the sly. You have to wait for the black-market T-shirts to come to you.
Everyone is nicer on game day. There doesn't seem to be as many cars out to hit you on your bike, and somehow homework seems less important. People smile a bit wider, and South Central seems less grimy.
Across campus, the football players prepare. My friend Jeff Tola, a linebacker, tells me his game day starts when he pulls out his iPod as soon as he wakes up. The cardinal-and-gold gadget, customized with his name and number on the back, is quickly programmed to his classic playlist.
Of course, by game time, he'll be working the death metal.
Eating is also quite an affair on game day. The amount of gluttony around campus could send us all to the seventh circle of hell. There is food everywhere you turn. Diets are thrown to the wind, no one hits the gym, and you realize that, even at 120 pounds, it is entirely possible to eat three hamburgers.
Apparently, the students in the stands aren't the only ones. Not much differs for the guys who will perpetrate the massacre later in the day. When I ask Jeff if he tries to eat lightly in preparation for the game, he gives me his classic you're-such-a-girl look. With a dismissive wave of his hand, he answers, "I eat whatever I want."