Thursday, October 06, 2005Nick, I agree with you about baseball. It's beauty is in its length, from April to October, from the first inning to the ninth. It stretches almost every facet of the American landscape; it is safe from no climate or geography. It's played by everyone, everywhere; blacks, whites, Hispanics, Asians. Everyone loves baseball, and who can blame them? There is indeed a mystery about it, though I'm at a loss to explain it.
It remains the quintessential American sport, steroids and primadonnas notwithstanding.
Concerning football, let me say that it always shall remain my favorite sport. Perhaps because I remember those warm September afternoons at Legion Field. Those cold nights watching the Iron Bowl over a bowl of chili. Friday nights in Tuscaloosa with an atmosphere of anticipation and expectancy that the next day would bring battle and then triumph. What a marvelous game. I remember those images as a youngster of that lumbering old grizzly bear in the houndstooth standing beneath a gold post, and then later his Texas protege nodding firmly on the sideline as Alabama racked up victory after victory in the early and mid 1990s.
As a student I suffered along during two losing seasons, torn ACLs, probation, a corrupt NCAA, deadbeat coaches, lowlife coaches, inexperienced coaches. Last Saturday was something different. I had resolved that I am not the type to cheer and yell, but after seeing Brodie Croyle toss an 80-yard touchdown pass on the opening play, I grabbed my shaker and joined the drunken oaf next to me in loudly singing "Yea Alabama!" And so it went for four quarters, shouting and hollering with a jubilant throng of students who have waited six years to see this sort of thing. There was a gasp when Tyrone Prothro, the gutsiest player in recent Alabama history, went down with a horrifying leg injury. We were seated below the skyboxes, and I heard someone mutter that it looked ugly. We cheered when he rolled off the field, and the game resumed. The clock began to wind down and as the sun made its descent over the Black Warrior River, a joyous Crimson Tide football team rushed the field. Stout linemen grabbed Alabama flags from cheerleaders, waving them vigorously before planting a pole in the center of the field. A proud quarterback and his coach pumped their fists and tipped their hats to a raucous bunch of students, noisier than perhaps they have ever been. The team worked its way into the locker room but the students did not leave. The team reemerged from its tunnel to join in one last stanza of "Yea Alabama!" We waited a long time for this, and it felt good. I confess that I bit my lower lip just a little, almost tearing up, knowing that while there are indeed far more important things in the world, this one little thing, this thing that so many of us enjoy with our friends and families, was now fun again.