VIDEO: ‘Twas the Day After Thanksgiving

Posted In: Blog, RV Lifestyle

In our home state of Alabama, the most popular spectator sport is college football. The passion and intensity with which this sport is followed can hardly be exaggerated. It’s kind of like England and soccer, only without all the hooligans and riots. Or at least without the riots. (More on this point below.)

At first glance you might think that football has little to do with camping. But as we’ve previously discussed in Did the Ancient Romans Tailgate?, here in the American South football and RV camping go hand-in-hand.

With an RV, you can stretch out the football party experience over the course of several days. You arrive at the game site a day or two before kickoff, and depart long after the last whistle has blown. In fact, we initially bought our Airstream with the intention of it becoming our weekend tailgate machine. One of the ironies of our website is that we’ve done pretty much everything imaginable with our rig EXCEPT tailgate! We do most of our “Long Long Honeymoon” travel during the summer, and usually rest our heels (and our Airstream) during autumn.

But back to the insanity that is Alabama football. Many states have one marquee football program (or professional team). Here there are TWO schools in the state with a decorated history in the sport, two powerhouse programs that battle for supremacy. They are the University of Alabama and Auburn University. If you reside in this state, you must choose your team.

This is a classic case of yin & yang, peanut butter & jelly, Luke Skywalker & Darth Vader. Sure, one could live without the other, but life would be much less interesting. You just can’t have decent drama without both a protagonist and an antagonist.

Fans of the respective schools live and breathe this stuff. It’s an ongoing soap opera. If you turn on talk radio during any time of year, you will hear football being discussed. Yes, even in July. The ongoing verbal squabbling stops for about four hours every year — when the teams actually compete in the “Iron Bowl,” the annual football game between the two arch rivals.

I am old enough to remember attending old school Iron Bowl games at Birmingham’s Legion Field. Back in the old days, the teams split the ticket allotment 50/50! One half of the stadium would be filled with Alabama fans, the other Auburn. I am so old, I saw Alabama’s legendary coach Bear Bryant match wits against Auburn there.

What about the “Iron Bowl” name? My understanding is that the origin of “Iron Bowl” had to do with Birmingham’s steel industry — the city was known as “the Pittsburgh of the South.” The city’s symbol is Vulcan – the world’s largest cast iron statue. Since the game was always played in Birmingham, “Iron Bowl” made sense.

Today the game is still called the Iron Bowl but no longer has a direct connection to Birmingham (a city which, let’s face it, no longer has any steel industry). Instead it is now played on a home-and-home basis, with the teams traveling to the respective university campuses to duke it out.

Although the teams are composed of ostensibly (hopefully!) unpaid “student athletes,” in reality college football is the training ground of the professional National Football League. All of those multimillionaire NFL players start here. In many cases, they enjoy better facilities in college than they do in the pros. Alabama’s home stadium, for example, seats more than 100,000 people. It’s been expanded so many times there’s literally nothing left to expand (unless future generations opt for a Tower of Babel approach). It usually sells out. Heck, a few years ago, over 90,000 people attended a Spring PRACTICE session.

Yes, people in Alabama take their football seriously. But despite the enthusiasm, I still think Alabamians remain more reasonable than most Europeans and South Americans and their soccer. I’ve never feared for my life or physical safety when attending an Alabama or Auburn game.

By contrast, a couple of years ago when visiting Argentina, we were warned against attending a local soccer contest. If we accidentally wore the wrong colors, we might end up in a hospital (or worse). I’ve seen pubs in London that proudly boast of NOT showing televised soccer games (because apparently English soccer hooligans like to start fights in sports bars). People are a little obsessive here about football, but most still know where to draw the line. You won’t get attacked for shaking the wrong pom pom.

Recently our local newspaper held an online video contest. The goal of the contest was to pair two opposing fans (one ‘Bama, one Auburn) in a creative video discussing the big game. You know how sometimes you read a job description and it seems to be targeted RIGHT AT YOU? This was one of those times. Kristy cheers for Auburn while I cheer for ‘Bama. So we entered a video in the contest and, much to our delight, it won!

The prize was a good one: two tickets to the game on Friday. According to ticket marketplace StubHub this game is the highest grossing college football match-up of the year (tickets are selling for an average of $400 apiece!), so we were quite happy to learn that we had won. Come Friday, rain or shine, we will be in the stadium wrecking our vocal chords along with 100,000 other fans.

Although we MAY indeed bring our Airstream to the event, this is obviously not a camping video. I thought our website viewers might enjoy it anyway. There are some jokes in the video that pertain to college football and these particular teams. Those of you who follow the sport will “get it.” For the rest, it’s a college football thang… you wouldn’t understand. 😉

Happy Thanksgiving!

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