Monday, January 16, 2012

Road to the Championship, Part Three

"I grew up in Alabama—possibly the worst place on earth to acquire a healthy perspective on the importance of spectator sports....A recent poll by the Mobile Register found that 90 percent of the state’s citizens describe themselves as college football fans. Eighty-six percent of them pull for one of the two major football powers there, Alabama or Auburn..... To understand what an absolute minority nonfans are in Alabama, consider this: they are outnumbered there by atheists."  
~Excerpt from Introduction to Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer, by Warren St. John

Bama Nation celebrating their champions.

An unbelievable number of fans descended on New Orleans for the BCS Championship last week.  G-Bear noticed an imbalance in the ranks as we walked down the street:  "Mommy, we aren't getting as many "Roll Tide"'s as we did yesterday."  It was true, there was more purple than crimson in the crowds, but we still managed to have a great time.   We ate lunch outside with live jazz on the French Market.  While the Bears rested in the afternoon, T and Uncle L went to cheer for the Tide players as they boarded the buses for the game.  Before we knew it, the sun was setting over New Orleans and T and I were joining Uncle L and Aunt H to make the long-anticipated walk to the Superdome.  

T and Uncle L celebrating their second 'Bama championship together.

While we went to the game, the kids stayed with Nana and her friends at the hotel.  Our apologies if you were on our floor of the hotel that night.  Every time Alabama scored, Nana and the kids ran down the hall with their shakers, cheering at the top of their lungs.  G-Bear didn't fall asleep until after 11pm, despite the fact that her body was still on Eastern Standard Time.

It was incredible to experience the excitement and jubilation of Alabama's win over LSU.   In his book Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer, Alabama superfan Warren St. John explores superfan-dom by asking "why something so removed from our lives--something that doesn't affect our jobs, our relationships, or our health--affects us so emotionally." (Introduction, p.16)  I can't say I understand it, and I agree with St. John's conclusion that it's not rational.  But as I stood next to T at the game, his knuckles white and frozen around the stem of his shaker for the first three quarters,  I was transported to a different time -- a time when he was six years old, wore a superman cape, and watched 'Bama games with his dad.   I realized how much the team and the game meant to so many people, including the tornado-ravaged towns around Tuscaloosa.  As a caller to the Paul Finebaum radio show said the next day, "I am a 'Bama fan here in Rhode Island, and nobody here seems to get it."  And I realized, as I stood there next to T, that I really wanted 'Bama to win.  And I loved it.   

Roll Tide.

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