There is nothing quite like Aggieland on game day. From the action on the field to the 12th Man swaying in unison to the greatness of the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band, the sights and sounds at Kyle Field are a thrill for most.
As I found out last year, there is one possible exception: children ages 6 and under.
Last September, my wife and I took our three daughters to their first Aggie football game, against Louisiana-Lafayette. With maroon outfits and lil’ Aggie logos on their faces, the kids looked the part. As we approached Kyle Field, their smiles were big. If only those smiles could have lasted a bit longer.
Kids get tired, hot and cranky, of course, which can lead to parents feeling the same way. So getting through a long football game wasn’t realistic. We had one goal: make it to halftime so we could see the band. Everyone loves the band.
There had been clues prior to this day of how it might go. At my oldest child’s first Aggie basketball game, she was confused by the fans locking arms and swaying during The Aggie War Hymn. No one was seated on either side of us — it was that kind of year for the team — so this was to be a two-person sway. Her participation could barely be described as a lean, and she looked at me as if I had suddenly grown two additional noses.
(The same child, now 12, once lamented football’s return by declaring, “I wish it wasn’t football season. I wish it was My Little Pony season.”)
The grand scale of game day would be enough to keep the little ones interested, we thought. The ultimate bonus was the promise that Reveille IX would be there. We had heard the Aggie mascot would be part of the Kids Yell Practice at the northeast corner of the stadium. After a long walk from the Reed Arena parking lot, we arrived just as it was ending. That was our best hope to see Reveille up close. This would be difficult to overcome.
Once we entered the stadium, the long slog began up the Eternal Ramps of Kyle. Enthusiasm deteriorated. Groans began. But we trudged on, moving ever closer to the sun.
“Make it to halftime,” I thought.
We found our seats at the top of the third deck, near the south end zone, with the kids huffing and puffing from the steep walk. We sat down and settled in. Moments later, the first “I’m booored” arrived.
This was 17 minutes before the game started.
A boost came in the sensory overload of the pregame action — the pyrotechnics, the sound of Kanye West’s Power blaring from the speakers, and the long-awaited sight of Reveille on the field. That helped to keep them focused for a few minutes — until kickoff.
To be fair, this was a dreadful game in the first half, and the Ragin' Cajuns were up 21-14 by halftime. To see the mighty Aggies losing to Louisiana-Lafayette was almost as bad as that awful night in 1996, when the mighty Aggies lost to Louisiana-Lafayette (back when the school was known as Southwestern Louisiana).
But I’ll give the kids a little credit. They did have some delightful moments of commentary. Upon hearing the game was tied, my middle child noted loudly, “It’s tied! Just like my shoelaces!”
After one of the few positive moments for the Aggies, the crowd appropriately roared. “We might actually win!” my youngest squealed. (Bonus points for the accurate use of “might” at that point in the game.)
And when a timeout was called, there was immediate concern. “Why did they have to have a timeout?” my middle child asked. She thought the Aggie players had done something bad and were being sent to the corner. This was also fairly insightful.
But the whines soon resumed, as they tend to do with red-faced kids who are sweating like Robert Hays in Airplane! Our halftime goal seemed doomed, especially as a series of incomplete passes, penalties and timeouts turned the game clock to molasses in the second quarter.
At last, the midway mark arrived. The Aggie Band was wonderful as ever. We pointed out how intricate the band members’ movements were, and the kids were wide-eyed at the impressive formations.
As the Aggies dashed off the field at the end of their performance, we dashed to the concourse to head out. The long journey back to the car sparked more grumbling, highlighted by one all-out tantrum.
So it turns out two of the things that make life worth living — children and Aggie football — aren’t quite compatible yet. That’s OK. We’ll give it another try … in three or four years. And this time, we’ll have our priorities straight: dog over football.
As my youngest said when she saw the goal posts: “I know what those yellow things are. Reveille jumps through them.”