Researchers at Vanderbilt, a school that recently cast its athletic department into the lake of fire, state that those willing to call themselves ‘Southerners’ have declined in number by seven percent. Immune from this seven percent solution are, respectively, the filthy rich and religious conservatives: It’s either Sutpen or Snopes from now on, I guess.
This isn’t shocking news. People can tolerate losing, but not being losers. And the history of the South boils down to each generation hitching their wagon anew behind the same losing horse – with few exceptions. And that brings us back to my beloved Crimson Tide.
When as many things go wrong as seen in last week’s game versus Arkansas, it is impossible to point fingers. After all, a man only has two hands. With each week, Alabama loses more ground in the war of attrition. The defensive line, the receiving corps, the backfield, the offensive front – and, Lord help us all, even the Brodie – are suffering.
Sunday saw the birth of the Don’s new granddaughter, and that girl’s father now returns to the scene of perhaps his greatest triumph as a player – engineering the kind of comeback good enough to immortalize on a garish oil print. Is it too much to hope the paint hasn’t completely dried?
Back to these repressed Southerners for a minute. It is important that Alabama win. Note that verb is intransitive. Not “that Alabama win the game” or even “that Alabama win next year’s title,” but simply win. Despite appearances, the South’s rabid taste for football is not because these programs are perennial winners. Most SEC teams end their season in disappointment. Hardly anyone is alive today who remembers why football is so goddamned important.
Football is a proof. It is a game born of the utilitarian age, a game of industry, a game first practiced on these shores by the Ivy Leaguers. It demands ultimate cooperation and infinite strategy. It is chess with blood. And the Southerner, that rube unable to speak the Queen’s English, unable to live peacefully with his neighbor, unable to progress into modernity, perfected it.