I love my alma mater. Really, I do. I love Mississippi State with the firey passion of a thousand suns. I love Starkville. And I love the Bulldogs. Hail State!
However. Ahem. I love Alabama Football. At Alabama, it is different. At State, it is fun, it is social, it truly embodies the phrase "We may lose games, but we have never lost a party." We win: we celebrate. We lose: we move on. Not the same at UA. In Tuscaloosa, football is the pulsating undercurrent of All Things. There is an electricity in the air that can be felt. Sure, there are times of the year when it is not so blatantly obvious, but it is always there.
When my son was a toddler, he was asked what sound does an elephant make, and his response was "Roll Tide!" Merritt, at 22 months of age, can also Roll Tide, and now when she sees pretty much any sportsteam on PB (that's TV in Merritt-speak), gleefully exclaims, "A-ma-mama!" Its in their blood. Its preschool curriculum here.
Its therefore unavoidable that after nearly 13 years of working at the Capstone, I have made the conversion. It was rough at first. My first football season, someone ended a work-related phone call with the phrase, "Roll Tide!" I was frozen. It went against everything I had been taught in my life. I mean, Roll Tide was a four-letter word where I came from. All I could muster was a sing-songy "Okay?!"
At first the change was subtle. I went to a game or two. I enjoyed meeting up with my aunt and uncle at their tailgate on gamedays. I can't tell you when I let my first true "Roll Tide" slip, but I remember feeling really weird after I said it. It was a shameful little secret. But I got bolder. At some point, I started exchanging "RTR" texts with my aunt, and deflecting comments from my dad. Alabama wasn't MY team, I kept trying to convince him...and myself.
But the spirit is undeniable. You could attribute it to all the National Championships, you could give the Bear his due, you could talk about the rich history of the program, or the crazy legions of fans, but its more than that. Its too complex to just put into words...it just is. Win or lose, the Tide is a spirit that seeps into the psyche here. It is inescapable. I gave in.