“I grew up in Alabama – possibly the worst place on earth to acquire a healthy perspective on the importance of spectator sports.” –Warren St. John
St. John could understand my plight. The Mountain Brook native is the author of my latest read, Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer: A Journey into the Heart of Fan Mania. This crazy journalist joined a group of RVin’ ‘Bama fans and trailed the team across the country during the 1999 season. (All I can say is, I wish I’d had the idea first. And 1999 was a beautiful year for college football.)
Many of my friends, however, don’t relate. At least, that’s the only logical conclusion when you consider the important games I’ve had to miss because of their inconsideration.
I gave away my Tennessee ticket last year in order to attend a wedding that ended up being postponed. Let me offer some perspective for those of you outside the ‘Bama nation. We all know that the Alabama-Auburn rivalry is the biggest in the nation. Florida-Florida State isn’t too far behind. Florida State also bears a venomous hatred for our enemies to the south, Miami. Just as Florida State abhors those schools almost equally, Alabama despises Auburn and Tennessee.
In fact, let’s turn to St. John again for an illustrative anecdote. Here, he recounts a trip through Tennessee en route to Alabama’s season opener against Vanderbilt. These aren’t Vandy fans giving them trouble; it’s the other state team (who Alabama doesn’t play until much later in the season).
“A bit farther down the road, passing motorists begin to flip us off. In a sea of orange, our Alabama bumper stickers and that TIDE license plate are the equivalent of KICK ME signs taped to our backs.”
A week ago, I passed on Alabama’s season opener in favor of a 500 mile drive to Virginia. Okay, so we played Utah State, but it was still the first game of the year! Instead of sitting in a stadium of sweaty football fans, I spent my weekend with friends from far-off lands and dancing at a wedding.
Tonight offers another challenge. Florida State will open their season against the aforementioned Miami Hurricanes. I’ll be dining on sushi and Thai noodles at Surin West.
I suppose I could fault Hurricane Frances instead of the friend whose birthday I’ll be celebrating. After all, this game would have taken place on Monday if it wasn’t for Miami’s namesake wreaking havoc on Florida. (But would we have wanted to play on a flooded field? You saw last year’s match up, didn’t you? I don’t trust Chris Rix in puddles.)
Pray for me: Maybe I’ll make it home in time to catch the fourth quarter.
[Disclaimer: I’m mostly kidding. Yeah, it stinks to miss big games, but friends are more important… so if you’re one of the people who caused these incidents, realize I don’t hold a grudge and that you’re worth the sacrifice. 😉 Even though I wouldn’t have minded watching the game…]