The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Kelly Kazek

November 26, 2011

Can Auburn-Alabama fans play nice?

— Last week when I was walking my beagle Lucy around our neighborhood, I noticed a home for sale. As I passed, I saw a fading decal on the mailbox, an elephant head and an iconic “A” for the University of Alabama. I had the thought: “That realtor really should remove that sticker or she might as well eliminate half the buying public.”

I shook my head at my own thought. Is the Alabama-Auburn rivalry really so bad that an Auburn fan wouldn’t buy a house because Alabama fans once lived in it?

The answer, for rational people, is no. But for that handful of haters, it could make a difference. I’ve heard the same about businesses named ’Bama-this or ’Bama-that.

Some Auburn fans won’t patronize them.

A few months ago, the national clothing chain Old Navy began airing a commercial that, as soon as I saw it, made me go: “Uh-oh.” Somebody obviously hadn’t done his marketing research on football in the South.

The commercial shows a group of Alabama fans having a game-day party and singing about how people can buy their college fanwear at Old Navy. Then a fan wearing an Auburn shirt arrives on a motorcycle, looking ridiculous in a Tiger costume. A kid in an Alabama shirt sings that the fan’s OK because he brought pizza.

My feeling of foreboding was correct. Soon, a Facebook page had been started called “Auburn Fans Boycott Old Navy Stores.” While it only garnered 561 fans, it illustrates the heart of a rivalry that, earlier this year, led to the felonious act of poisoning the iconic oak trees at Toomer’s Corner, which Auburn fans have a tradition of rolling with toilet paper after a win.

On the Boycott page, one fan wrote: “I think the commercial is a bit unrealistic … the Alabama fans all seem to have most if not ALL their teeth.”

Many people outside our beautiful state — and some inside it — would think that Alabamians take loyalty to a football team too far.

On Saturday morning, I watched a rerun of the ESPN movie “Roll Tide/War Eagle” about what has been called college football’s most intense rivalry. I’ve heard people say the film makes the entire state look bad, like a bunch of rednecks with nothing better to do than drink beer, watch football and curse the other team.

While I agree that it doesn’t make Alabamians look particularly intelligent, I do think the film gave a fair portrayal of the rivalry.

It makes people do crazy things.

I agree with the filmmakers that children here are “raised Auburn” or “raised Alabama.” Most babies born in the state have worn an Alabama or Auburn onesie before they ever leave the hospital. Some new parents carry it to extremes, naming their children or pets Bear, Aubie, Crimson, or Bama.

I have always pitied people with mixed marriages. The questions are endless: Do we exchange vows in the church of Auburn football or Alabama? Do we raise the children Roll Tide or War Eagle? Do we have separate Thanksgivings so we can do our pre-Iron Bowl trash-talk?

An old friend of mine from Auburn is in a mixed marriage. She was not a huge football fan and hadn’t been back to campus since 1989, so she let her husband take the reins in which “religion” to raise the children, a son and daughter. I told her, only half jokingly, “Look, the boy is a done-deal but you still have time to save the little one from the Dark Side.”

My friend and I returned to Auburn early in this football season and visited the dorms and apartments where she’d lived, took in a game and reveled in the traditions. A few weeks later, she took her entire family to a game so they could witness the traditions that make her love Auburn.

This, for me, is what college football is all about: the swell of pride you feel at the first strains of the fight song, the goosebumps raised when the Jumbotron flashes, “Protect this house!” and the welling of tears at the sight of a soaring eagle spiraling to the 50-yard-line.

I truly love my alma mater, and I am so proud my daughter now attends Auburn, but that love and pride are not based on football.

Win or lose, I am always an Auburn fan.

I think we Alabamians should think back to what we are taught as Southerners: “Be polite to your enemies.”

Will we talk behind their backs about how their dress was WA-A-AY to skanky for church? Of course.

We will enjoy it a little too much when their prized convertible gets scratched? Most definitely.

Will we give them a heads up that they have spinach stuck in their teeth at a public function? Not hardly.

But should we be the ones to scratch the car or take glee in their pain? Never. It just wouldn’t be Southern.

I’ve heard some people say after the poisoning of the Toomer’s oaks that the rivalry has gone too far and the Iron Bowl should be stopped.

That’s not going to happen, not only because of the huge losses of money it would mean for both colleges but because the majority of Alabamians want the Iron Bowl to continue.

But perhaps we learned a few things this year when Alabama fans raised money to help save the Toomer’s oaks and when Auburn fans went to Tuscaloosa in the aftermath of the deadly tornado that killed as many as 50 people there and devastated the college town.

People should come first; football second.

Take a hint from our Southern mothers: Be polite to your enemies.

Trash-talk them, sure, just not to their faces.

Wear your team shirt with pride, but don’t spit on theirs.

When it’s over, and you’ve won, be sure to say of the enemy, “Bless their little hearts.”

Everyone knows you don’t mean it in a good way, but at least you tried. At least you were civilized and, in this rivalry, that’s the best we can hope for.

1
Text Only
Kelly Kazek
  • kazek, kelly.jpg A relaxing nakation will melt away worries

    September 23, 2012 1 Photo

  • kazek, kelly.jpg Today's interactive column: What's your Bacon Number?

    Google has created a search engine that automatically calculates any actor’s “Bacon Number,” meaning how many connections it takes to link him or her to Kevin Bacon, á la the parlor game Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.

    September 16, 2012 1 Photo

  • kazek, kelly.jpg Biography of Kelly Kazek

    Kelly Kazek was born in Warner Robins, Ga., in whichever year adds up to her being 35.

    November 8, 2011 1 Photo

  • kazek, kelly.jpg Warning: Get ready for the apawcalypse

    Humans are being cat-washed — and I don’t mean by little sandpapery tongues.

    September 2, 2012 1 Photo

  • kazek, kelly.jpg A wish for peace, perfect parking space

    August 26, 2012 1 Photo

  • kazek, kelly.jpg What? Like you’ve never glued a foot to the floor

    ... I don’t want you to get the wrong impression about me. I like men, especially Channing Tatum, and I don’t even care if he’s smart. So today, in the interest of fairness, I want to give equal space to Stupid Girl Tricks.

    August 19, 2012 1 Photo

  • kazek, kelly.jpg Fall of the South? Much ado about Honey Boo Boo

    It’s been 80 years since those living in the Great Depression focused on Shirley Temple to lift them from doldrums. In 2012, in the midst of the Great Recession ... Americans have a new bubbly, curly-headed icon to take their minds off their woes: Honey Boo Boo Child.

    August 12, 2012 3 Photos

  • kazek, kelly.jpg ‘Man aisle?’ What about a single mom aisle?

    I like to tell my peeps I don’t think all men are stupid. Just the ones who practically beg me to write about them like William Bonner of Augusta, Ga., who last week poured a shot of Bacardi 151 on his head and asked a friend to light it

    August 5, 2012 1 Photo

  • A girls’ guide to safe thong-wearing

    Yes, a pair of panties, which in my experience have always been non-violent, has joined the list of items mamas must warn children about: “You are not old enough for your own thong. You could put your eye out.”

    July 29, 2012

  • kazek, kelly.jpg Solutions for 'toe-besity,' bad mug shots

    I personally never worry about slimming down an area I can hide with a nice pair of Easy Spirits and instead concentrate on fat in places that could lead people to think I am pregnant … or a beached manatee … or a pregnant beached manatee.

    July 28, 2012 3 Photos

Poll

What is your favorite Easter candy?

Chocolate bunnies
Marshmallow chicks
Chocolate eggs with filling
     View Results
Facebook
AP Video
Raw: Royal Couple Visits Australia Mountains Raw: Pro-Russian Militants Killed on Base Captain of Sunken South Korean Ferry Apologizes Boston Bombing Survivors One Year Later Sister of Slain MIT Officer Reflects on Bombing Raw: Blast at Tennessee Ammunition Plant Kills 1 Hoax Bomb Raises Anxiety in Boston Egypt Clamps Down on Mosques to Control Message After Fukushima, Japan Eyes Solar Power New York Auto Show Highlights Latest in Car Tech Ex-California City Leader Gets 12 Year Sentence Disbanding Muslim Surveillance Draws Praise Hundreds Missing After South Korean Ferry Sinks Passengers Abuzz After Plane Hits Swarm of Bees Town, Victims Remember Texas Blast At Boston Marathon, a Chance to Finally Finish Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?
Twitter Updates
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Stocks
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Business Marquee