WHERE DID ALL THE ANGER GO?
The Iron Bowl... the most heralded rivalry in all of college sports. Its vaunted history is filled with such mutual contempt that for nearly half a century, the teams refused to play each other. There have been battles over the ticket split, location and referee loyalties, which is to say nothing of the epic duels that have been seared into the collective Alabama memory.
The band makes its way to Jordan-Hare Stadium. And Glory.
Needless to say, the men of Going South, weaned on the blood-feud that is the Red Sox/Yankees madness, were beyond excited to witness firsthand the furious anger of Alabaman fandom. We were hoping for some fisticuffs. Perhaps a touch of the old ultraviolence. At the very least, a couple of open-hand face slaps.
Sadly, the good folks of Alabama would not indulge us.
Come closer and I'll tell you a secret: the purported hatred between the Tide and Tiger faithful does not exist. I'd say 'dislike' wouldn't even be accurate, as I don't remember coming across a single tailgate that wasn't mixed Auburn and Alabama. The honest truth, the truth that they don't want you to know, is that these fans quietly love each other.
Despite his pleas, Auburn Santa will not be visiting Waxman this Christmas.
Time and again, this has been the biggest surprise to me: the overwhelming fondness the various groups of fans demonstrate for each other. Up north, it's not atypical to see rival groups act their aggression out on each other. For the most part, these interactions play out like something from the Discovery channel, though usually without the cannibalism.
Down here though, there seems to be nothing but love for visiting fans. Granted, this could simply be a function of the laws of reciprocity: I don't stomp you in my yard, you don't stop me in yours. But, ever the humanist, it seems to me that it's something that runs a little deeper in the veins. As much as they play it up as the South's second religion and as rabid as they get in their discussions and opinions, these fans seem to be marked by a single overriding perspective: that football was made to bring friends together, not to drive them apart.
Which possibly explains why that every single SEC mascot resembles to a Care Bear.
Lotsa-Heart. Roll Tide.