Gen Z needs a 'Touchdown on Play No. 1'

Are the real die hard Volunteer fans a dying breed?

Are the real die-hard Tennessee fans a dying breed?

Many might scoff at that question but after having my son chose recreation over attending the Florida-Tennessee matchup I had to wonder if the next generation of Volunteer football fan is being raised in an era that is missing something. It didn't take long to find what is missing. This newest generation is simply missing that lasting moment that hooks a person for a lifetime to being a fanatic.

The Generation Z members simply don’t have that moment that they can grasp as a life-long memory. Growing up in the 1980s and 1990s my generation had plenty of such memories. Thoughts of these memories will certainly make the hair on many old timers' necks stand at attention much better than Colin Kaapernick before he collects his checks on Sundays this fall.

Oct. 16, 1982 — “Count it down with me. 5-4-3-2-1 Tennessee beats Alabama”

Oct. 19, 1985 — “Was that ball intercepted in midair? Ladies and Gentleman that ball was intercepted by.Dale Jones”

Jan. 11986 — “Touch down Big Orange in the Super Dome”

Nov. 91991 — “The kick is up and it is good………no it is no good it is no good”

Sept. 19, 1992 — “Touchdown Mose Phillips in the downpour”

Oct. 14, 1995 — “Touch down on play No. 1”

Sept. 191998 — “The kick is in the air and the kick this time is ...... NO SIR REE NO SIR REE”

Jan. 41999 — “Count it down with me the national champion is clad in Big Orange”

So as the Vols run through the T onto the green sward of Shields-Watkins Field to take on the Florida Gators, much more is at stake than just a win or loss. Many of the newest members of the Big Orange fan base have never seen Tennessee beat Florida — or least can recall it. Changing that would allow an entire generation that is starving for that single moment that transforms them from casual fan into what many would describe a cult-like following of all things orange to become true fanatics.

For old timers in the stands at Neyland Stadium on Saturday take a moment to lower your noses and don’t expect the students in their section to act like as if they have been there before because they haven’t. If they are lucky enough to experience one of those iconic moments, don’t think they will sit on their hands peacefully in their seats in an orderly fashion as the final horn sounds. I am sure a few of those old timers that want to act like they have been there and done that might have even laid a hand on those goal post in 1982 or 1998.

So if that happens on Sept. 24, 2016 just know that finally the next generation of VFLs will have a moment to remember for a lifetime and everyone in orange should see that as a good thing.


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