Watching football, SEC football, seems to be a way of life for most southern women I know, especially the ones growing up in Alabama. In the state of Alabama, you are born to wear either the Auburn orange and blue or the Alabama red and white. There are no other choices. Most people in my immediate family were born into the orange and blue side, and fall Saturdays were always spent in stadiums. I learned cheers at an early age and my grandmother on my dad’s side was a huge fan because her sons went to Auburn. There is no question that SEC football is a way of life in the South.
My dad is a former coach. He’s always loved sports, in fact, he played baseball at Auburn University. He spent 30 plus years coaching in the public school system of Alabama. My sisters and I were exposed to sports early on, so my love of football comes honestly. I grew up going to the football fields on Friday nights for games and to the gym on Tuesdays and Fridays for basketball games. My dad began his coaching career in 1963 coaching B-Team football and B-Team track at Phillips High School in Birmingham, Alabama. He eventually coached baseball and basketball at Phillips. When I was in second grade, we moved to Opelika, Alabama where he coached basketball, tennis and golf at the high school there. He then moved to Minor High School in Birmingham after a few years, where he coached basketball and football. While at Minor he started the Magic City Classic basketball tournament with Coach Willie Scoggins that was held at Christmas. He also started the ‘Top 20 Ranking of Teams and Players in Basketball.’ My dad had 47 players that went to college. My dad has been a great influence on a number of the players he coached, and I remember specifically the love and compassion my dad had for his players, and the help he and my mom gave to some of those players who were in need.
I really didn’t realize how big of a fan I was of football until I moved out of Alabama to Washington, D.C. Most people in other parts of the country cannot relate to the fandom of the South and the SEC. Pro football is a mainstay in most parts of the country and I get their fan base, but for me adjusting and trying to enjoy the game at the pro level was not easy at all. Luckily for me, Washington D.C. had a metro Auburn Club, so I joined and watched the game with fellow Auburn alums at the Crystal City Sports Pub in Arlington, VA. Just for those few hours I got to spend time with fellow fans who had the same love of Auburn football as I did. It was a welcome venture for one who was trying to adjust to living outside of the Deep South. Many argue that because Washington is below the Mason Dixon Line it is the south; it’s nothing like Alabama, but then again, nothing is, is it?
Once I moved home back to Alabama in 2006 I decided I was going to purchase Auburn season tickets because with the tickets so many childhood memories of my grandmother’s love of Auburn and my dad coaching and going to games as I child. I had not purchased tickets in many, many years. There are a number of people who complain that college sports and football have gone the way of big business now, however, I view sports differently. I personally lived and witnessed how sports changed the lives of those athletes my dad coached and helped. It means a lot when you care enough for your students to help them grow and prosper. He did and does. The sole purpose of buying season tickets is to take my dad to the games. We go together to most all of the home games. This has been our tradition about nine years. So for me football is not only a southern tradition, it’s a family tradition, and one I can enjoy with my dad.