ATHENS -- Everyone in Athens seems to have an opinion or stake in the success of Georgia's football team, which has lost four games in a row for the first time in 20 years.
On Sunday, the downtown area was unusually busy, mostly due to the sunny skies. Students typed away outside on laptops, while other people were window-shopping to enjoy the spring-like weather.
However, it seemed like everyone was aware of the dark clouds hanging over 1-4 Georgia, which last lost four consecutive games in 1990. People seen wearing Bulldogs apparel Sunday were as rare as a Georgia win.
"God has got to be mad at Coach [Mark] Richt or something because he's such a good Christian man … there's got be a reason because the way they are losing games just doesn't make sense," said Josh Boatright, 27, general manager of the Cotton Club restaurant and bar on Broad Street. "The losing is killing business. No one comes out like they do when Georgia wins. It seems like everyone stays at home because they are all mad."
Georgia's football results have an economic impact on Athens' food and beverage industry, according to several business owners. When the Bulldogs lose, fans don't seem to hang around as long after games.
"This season is very unfortunate because it is affecting business and the overall morale of downtown," said Richard Dyer, the owner of Genco Import Company. "A lot of bars like us feed off the university and with the team not playing well, it hurts us all. Instead of going out and celebrating, Georgia fans will stay home and sulk. But you will get the occasional fans that go out and drink away their sorrows."
One University of Georgia student has found a positive.
Greyson Ruback, 28, a second-year law student from Stone Mountain, has family members from out of state arriving next weekend for a friend's wedding. He wants to take them to Georgia's home game against Tennessee on Saturday.
"I wasn't sure if I was [going] to be able to get them tickets or not … but now at 1-4, I'm pretty sure I will be able to get them some cheap tickets," he said.
Les Hatch, 63, of Lavonia proudly wore a bright red Georgia shirt for everyone to see Sunday while sipping on a drink on the porch of Taco Stand.
"As my Mama always said, ‘Rats leave a sinking ship,'" said Hatch, who lifted his sleeve to show the Georgia "G" tattooed on his left shoulder last month.
"We Georgia fans just have to be patient," he said. "It's like the business world. No matter what business you're in, you're going to have a bad year every once in a while. Mark Richt is having a bad year. But it's not like he's a bad coach."
If Georgia loses to Tennessee, it will be the first five-game losing streak in more than 50 years (1953).
"It has been a terrible season," Ruback said. "I've been a Georgia fan my whole life, finally came to school here, and now I'm worried we might not be any better next year. I'm legitimately starting to worry about the Idaho State game [on Nov. 6], which is ridiculous."
Trina Barker, 33, is hoping for a turnaround because Georgia's losses are impacting her home life.
"My roommate is the biggest Georgia fan, and his mood depends solely on the Bulldogs," Barker said. "If we have a bad game, I don't really see him for the rest of the week.
"But on the following Saturday, he's all pepped up again and ready to go. I hope they win again because I have to live with him."
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