SWEET HOME ALABAMA

Alabama loves football. No, I mean Alabama LOVES football. There are two major college football teams here, Auburn and Alabama. Forget the rest. Those two are the only ones that count. In fact forget ALL the other teams in the SEC. They don’t count. God help a Tennessee fan if he shows up wearing their orange cap with the big T.

Here in northwest Alabama, Crimson Tide fans dominate. How can I tell? First, the gear that identifies their loyalty. Hats, sweaters, t-shirts, jackets, pants, shirts, shoes, wallets, bookbags, knapsacks, purses, earrings, necklaces, bracelets, watches, sunglasses, hair bands, painted nails, socks, underwear, whatever. The legendary Paul “Bear” Bryant wore a houndstooth hat as well as a red jacket. Let me tell you, a little houndstooth goes a long way.

Second, the vehicles they drive, all Alabama red, of course. Vans, sedans, sports cars, Smart cars, pickup trucks, SUVs, camper trailers, motor homes, and airplanes. Believe me, if you can say it, it’s been done. There’s also the license plates and frames, decals, flags. I did see a minivan painted in houndstooth. Yep, it was awful.

Third, by the names they’ve chosen for their children. You can’t count the kids named after Paul Bryant. Some are even named Bear. No, don’t feel sorry for the kids They’ll be ok…as long as they don’t leave Alabama. Countless, too, are the kids named after football players themselves. Remember Joe Namath who went on to the New York Jets after playing for Bear Bryant? Yep, you guessed it. Names, lots of names. We don’t sell many naming books here for parents-to-be. No need, we’ve got Alabama football.

What about “crimson tide” as a name? I don’t know of anyone using that as a name, but, hey, this is Alabama, I’m sure it’s happened. Crimson Tide Smith. It has a ring to it.

My wife Joy knows someone who named their boy Tide and their daughter Crimson. They’re not twins, either. Tide is about fifteen months old and Crimson is only six weeks old. Their dad and the kids all have red hair and the diaper bag is a large one, of course, and it’s houndstooth. Of course. That took strategic planning as well as religious madness…er…fervor.

It could be worse, I guess. No doubt some kids were named after coaches who were later fired for not winning. Some of those coaches are coaching other SEC teams. Perish the thought. They’ll survive. The coaches I mean.

Personally, I do not watch much football. I am aware of when there’s a big game at Alabama’s Legion Field. You can’t book a hotel room within a hundred miles, maybe more, and everyone puts on their colors and there’s a lot of honking and waving between the decked out cars and trucks.

All this makes it hard to ignore the game. Wherever I go I can hear the announcers. The TV set at my barber’s shop is on every televised Alabama game, as are the restaurant and sports bar TVs in the area. I try to ignore them all, though. I’m just never sure who they’re playing or where or what inning they are in.

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