From the December 2010 magazine.

FOOTBALL FANTASY

Every die-hard fan needs a sober buddy riding shotgun

I GREW up in Nebraska, and that means becoming a college football fan early in life. It's a consuming madness, and my family is no exception. My grandparents started going to the games in Lincoln in the 1920s, and my parents have had season tickets since the 1950s. I went to my first game in 1969, and as I got older, I made many road trips to away games in places like Lawrence and Manhattan, Kan.; Columbia, Mo.; Ames, Iowa; and Boulder, Colo. All of these are college towns, of course, and a great place for a drunk like me, with all of the bars and nightlife that go along with college football gameday.

I found my way to AA, finally, in 1990, at nearly the age of 30. A really big concern for me at the beginning was what I was going to do about the sporting events that I'd loved so much for all of my life. Ever since I was about 15, they'd really become wall-to-wall drunkfests. Was my love of sports going to be enough? How would I deal with people who were drinking? What would happen on road trips to all of the places I knew with great familiarity?

-- ERIC J.

Grand Forks, N.D.

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