: unswerving in allegiance
I cheated on my husband today.... with another football team. He knows I love football. He's known that for years. But I don't think he realized just how much I still love the Alabama Crimson Tide. They were, you see, my first football love.
If I met you, I'd tell you I'm a Vanderbilt fan. And I am. We have season football tickets for our entire family. We have Vandy gear that we all wear to the games - a cute black-and-gold striped dress for the five year old, fuschia t-shirts for the eight and nine year olds, a black & gold tee for me and VU golf shirts for the hubby. We go to every home game, watch every away game on TV. But, Vanderbilt, oh, Vanderbilt. They lose. They lose games they should win. And they do this with alarming regularity.
I start every game excited, fired up to be there. I clap. I scream. I jump up and down when we convert on third and long. And then my team puts me back in my seat. Because our quarterback throws a pass to the wide receiver's knees. Our running back runs straight into a heap of defenders for no gain. And, far too often, we simply self-destruct. Because this has been happening for years - I've been a Vandy fan for nearly two decades - I begin to disassociate when things get bad. I keep watching, but the emotion drains out of me. I half-expect the dropped passes, the near-fumbles, the three and outs. I watch, but my mind wanders. I find this makes the nearly inevitable loss easier to bear. Part of me has already accepted that we will lose, so it doesn't hurt quite as badly.
But today, before the pain-inducing Vanderbilt-South Carolina game came the Alabama-Tennessee game. And watching Alabama is a different story. This wasn't their best game. They didn't score at will, as I would have liked. In fact, Tennessee, the hated University of Tennessee, held the Tide to field goals when I wanted TDs. But, man, is Bama fun to watch. Mark Ingram is simply stunning. I've never seen someone get so many yards after contact. He's quick and he just carried Bama down the field on his shoulders more than once.
And here's where the cheating comes in. While watching Ingram & Co, I clapped, I yelled, I said "Rolllllll Tiiiiide Roll!" with my five year old. And during the painful last half of the last quarter when Tennessee showed signs of an upset, when they actually recovered that onside kick (!), I was beside myself. I yelled, "NO!" at the TV after the aforementioned onside kick. My daughters looked at me like I was a bit insane. My husband looked at me longingly. Because HE yells at the TV - but he does it during Vanderbilt games. That's when he said to me, "You're cheating on me. You're cheating on Vandy. You don't get this excited during their games!" In the heat of the moment, I wasn't sure he was right. And I couldn't stop to analyze it then - the game was on the line! But after Alabama hung on to block UT's field goal attempt and I could think straight again, I could see his point.
I love Vanderbilt. Seeing them win their first bowl game in a quarter of a century earlier this year was thrilling. But when the Vandy game started and my husband was pacing the floor, trying to help players tackle and yelling, I knew he was right. I am loyal to Alabama football. My heart races when I watch those crimson and white players march down the field. My blood boils when a team like Tennessee threatens to thwart what I think might be another national championship season. I am active when I watch an Alabama game and I care all the way through the game. There is no emotional disassociation going on.
So while I live Vanderbilt football, going to every home game, wearing the black and gold, indoctrinating my children to love Vandy and hate UT, I breathe Alabama football. It holds a special place in my heart, and likely always will.