Typing this post as a fully converted football fan who, until four years ago despised the sport, I realized something about the state of football in the state of Alabama. Yes, it’s about touchdowns. Yes, it’s about century-old rivalries. Yes, it’s about team colors and mascots, scores and superstars in the making, but it’s more than that. It’s more than a game. It’s a movement subconsciously (and successfully) meant to build bridges.
To me, Bama football is about a state being able to work towards working past its self-inflicted wounds to win, not just on the field, but in humanity with a piece of pigskin, a crowded stadium, and four quarters as a backdrop. I know we’re not all the way there, but I believe something happens on a Saturday afternoon in the fall or Monday night in the winter that causes us to inch one yard closer to the goal of where we should be…and that’s together. Say what you want about the state of Alabama. It’s your prerogative. I admit, we are flawed, for sure. But in all of our imperfections change has and always will happen right here. So call me optimistic. Call me crazy even, but there’s something about a people (and I mean all of us that call this great state and its great teams home) that can press through its own array of shenanigans for the sake of something greater, whether we know that’s what we’re doing or not. Am I saying football is the cure to world hatred or an anecdote to peace? Am I saying as a state we’ve “overcome”? No, but when blacks, whites, browns and all others can come together over crimson, white, orange, blue, black, yellow, maroon, silver or green that speaks volumes sometimes much louder and always much more powerful than a hate-filled bullhorn from 1963 or a hate-filled social media rant from 2014.
When I stroll through the local Wal-mart on a Saturday afternoon and see the twinkle in the eye of an elderly man of a different race who smiles and nods his head at me, clearly because I’m reppin’ UA in my latest T-shirt selection I feel good! When I have a lengthy conversation with the environmental services men at work about the defense vs offense of our favorite hometown teams I feel empowered! When the masses are cheering on the Alabama State Stingettes or the Honey Bees in their new stadium, or when we can boldly say that this state has been a National Champion or Championship contender for as long as I’ve been loving football I feel proud! When men and women, regardless of their school of choice, are wanting badly for Cam Newton to continue to make the Tigers proud with his professional skills (and lovely looking suits) I get a glimpse of the sensation that is Alabama football. When my social network feed is flooded with posts and pictures from people of all colors and all walks of life collectively supporting any local team with a capital “A” somewhere in their name it makes me amazed! When tailgating, game-day fashion shows, concerts, humanitarian efforts, social functions, and anything else centered around football are becoming more of a masterfully crafted mosaic of colors blending perfectly together that makes me hopeful! When I realize that not too many years ago NONE OF THIS would have happened here it makes me proud of my sweet home Alabama!