Red River Rivalry: More than a Game

Image of the Cotton Bowl crowd split down the 50 yard line. | Image by Sooners Wire

This upcoming Saturday will be my 22nd consecutive Texas-OU game at the Cotton Bowl. My friends will tell anyone that it’s absurd that I remember the scores and key plays from every game. Not just most of them, all of them. But why? Why are these memories so ingrained in my mind?

Sure, it is one of the best rivalries in all of sports. Sure, there is an abundance of passion from both fanbases. Sure, it is the most unique setting for a game that I have ever attended and most likely ever will. However, none of those things is the main reason.

I started going to this game in 2000 when I was 7 years old. It was cold, wet, and a flat-out terrible game from the Longhorn perspective. We ended up losing 63-14. Honestly, my dad couldn’t have picked a worse TX-OU game to take his 7-year-old son to for the first time. My lasting memory from that day actually had nothing to do with the game. Rather, riding bumper cars and exploring the funhouse with my dad are the memories I take away from that day. Despite not having any fond memories of the game itself, that was the day I became hooked.

Still, looking for that main reason? It’s family. Now, one might look at this family angle and describe it as “cornier than Fletcher’s finest dogs.” And I can’t argue with that. But for the past 20 years, I have attended all of these games with my dad and my brother. No matter what the result of the game, I experienced the wide range of emotions that second Saturday in October produces with them. And how families tend to grow as time goes on, I now go up to Dallas every year with the love of my life and some of the closest friends I have on this planet. It’s one big family reunion. In these times, where division is rampant, it’s a blessing to have something that unites us Texans together.

The sky is blue, the grass is green, and OU will forever suck. These things are given, but I know that each time I attend one of the games, it’s an honor. I hope for the opportunity to take a son or daughter to this game with the rest of my family. Maybe, just maybe, he or she will see this game through the same lens as I, and so many others, see it.

If you ever have the chance to go to the game, whether it may be this Saturday or sometime in the future, stand at the top of the main entrance. Look over the crowd, take it in, and realize that the game you are about to watch matters. Hook’em.

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