Posted by: Amanda | January 11, 2011

War Eagle

It’s kind of funny that I’d be sitting here thinking about writing about a football game. I’ve spent the past couple of years trying to convince myself and others that I am not interested in college football. That a bunch of 18- and 19- and 21-year olds throwing around a pigskin doesn’t matter. But, who am I kidding?

I grew up in rural Alabama, where you have to choose: Roll Tide or War Eagle? How did I make that choice? No one in my family went to college, so I didn’t have an alma mater to embrace. Instead, I looked to my dad who happened to be an Auburn fan. (I think a lot of people from Alabama root for who their Daddy roots for.) Auburn is historically the underdog, losing more than they win–especially in matchups against their arch rival the Crimson Tide. While the University itself has some amazing programs, they were always known for their agricultural department–they started as a farm school. It seems fitting that my family–dirt poor, un-college educated–would root for this team.

My 1-year old in an Auburn Tigers shirt.

In 1993, Auburn got in trouble for something (probably paying players) and as punishment, they couldn’t play on TV or compete in postseason games. Who knew that would be one of the most exciting years of college football for Auburn fans–especially me, a 14-year old girl who had caught football fever? I’ll never forget the day the Tigers beat Florida, hearing the raucous “Touchdoooooown Auburrrrrrrn” roar through our house from the radio in Daddy’s workshop in our basement. Auburn didn’t have a loss that year. Some have speculated that they would have won the National Championship title if they had been allowed to play in bowl games.

About four hours ago, I caught the last quarter of the National Championship game, the Auburn-Oregon matchup. With just a couple minutes left, the game was tied. Alone in the living room with my MacBook Pro on my lap (I streamed the game live from ESPN.com because I’m too cheap to pay for TV), I suddenly realized how totally into the game I was. I was ashamed to admit that my heart was beating a little harder and louder than usual.

But, here at knocking on 3 in the morning, I’ve thought some about this college football craze. It’s too commercial. All the decent teams pay their players and say they don’t. Obsessed fans and sore losers from both sides smack talking annoy me. I want to swear it off and live a football-free life. (My momma can do it. She never cares who wins unless one team is being especially mean. She’s a saint, that woman.) Is it pride that keeps me coming back? The hope for bragging rights? The heritage of Bama/Auburn jokes I just couldn’t get enough of in middle school? Partly. But, there’s something larger at work, something almost mystical draws me in. But, it’s late and I’m finally sleepy, so I’ll have to figure out exactly what it is later. For now, though, War Eagle!

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