Victory is mostly the point in the world of college football.
My mother was no big fan of college football when her teenagers discovered the game on TV. So she busied herself with popping popcorn and baking chocolate cookies that were served while still warm and gooey.
But when she placed the cookies on the coffee table in our living room, she settled herself into a chair to watch the game.
“Who’s playing?” she asked.
“UCLA and Stanford,” my brother said, reaching for a cookie without missing a moment of the game.
“Stanford is up by four points.”
Mom smiled and nestled into the chair. “Go, UCLA!”
I grabbed a cookie, too, wishing she’d brought hot chocolate as well. “Why are you rooting for UCLA?”
“Because they’re behind. I feel sorry for the underdog.”
“UCLA is winning now, Mom,” my brother said.
“Go, Stanford,” Mom replied. To our puzzled looks, she shrugged. “I feel sorry for the losing team.”
And then Stanford scored. Mom switched teams again.
The game was winding down and UCLA trailed by four. “I’m still rooting for UCLA,” Mom told us. “Poor guys. They’re losing.”
And then, in a flurry of color and motion, the game was over and players were leaping and slapping each other.
“What just happened?” Mom asked.
My brother scooped up the last bits of popcorn. “UCLA scored on the last play of the game. Your team won, Mom!”
“What?” She stared at the screen. “Football is so strange.”