Examining the Big Brother Mentality

Quick story …

I am the older brother to my sister, Elizabeth. She is three years younger than I am, and despite the fact that she is three times more driven than I, has already doubled my college degrees and is mere months away from becoming a doctor, I still hold one very important edge that cannot be overcome.

I am her Big Brother.

Thus, whenever the inevitable comparisons are drawn between us from family or friends, I will always have that ace ready to play. I was first. I will always be first. And there is nothing she can do about it.

Hers is what is widely known as the “Little Brother Mentality” – which in sports circles is never more evident than the sports/life tug-of-war known as Alabama vs. Auburn.

Auburn will always be Little Brother, of course. Little Brothers (or, in my case, sisters) try harder and work in more outlandish manipulations (see Newton, Cameron) in an attempt to one-up their Big Brother. Sometimes it works (see Newton, Cameron, or my sister’s impending doctor-school graduation), but often times, Little Brother is left in the dust simply because Big Brother has that parents-ordained gift of being first.

This piece is not about the Little Brother Mentality, as this website is not about Alabama’s Little Brother. Instead, I come today in praise of the Big Brother Mentality and all its virtues.

See, the Big Brother Mentality has allowed Crimson Tide fans to endure bumps in the road like, well, everything from 1993 to the day Nick Saban was hired.

Being the Big Brother to Auburn allowed Alabama faithful to remember the glory days even while Mike DuBose was, um, being Mike DuBose with the secretarial staff and Ronnie Cottrell and Co. were picking apart the program from within.

Being the Big Brother to Auburn allowed the Crimson Nation to endure the national joke that became Holding The Rope-Mike Price’s Folly-Mike Shula’s tenure while Little Brother was inexplicably running up a finger-waggling streak.

Being the Big Brother to Auburn meant that, when Shula’s seas-calming tenure had ended, Alabama didn’t go out and hire its Gene Chizik. Instead, it hired the second coming of Vince Lombardi.

And being the Big Brother to Auburn even allowed Crimson Tide faithful to turn the Newton “recruitment” and resultant Auburn national championship into tremendous fuel for a fire that earned as many national championships in three seasons as Auburn had won in its entire existence.

Make no mistake, either, the Big Brother Mentality isn’t just apparent on the football field. It lives in every facet of Crimson Tide athletics.

Ask Sarah Patterson, who has so dominated Auburn in gymnastics that her win streak is now in triple digits and leaves Tigers fans wondering what they have to do to even get on the scoreboard against the Tide.

Ask Anthony Grant and the Crimson Tide basketball team, which took great glee in prematurely emptying out the Auburn Arena on Tuesday night en route to a blowout victory against Tony Barbee and the hapless Little Brother Tigers.

Heck, ask pretty much any coach and program at the Capstone (sans swimming, which apparently is ingrained in Auburn’s DNA like the practice of medicine is ingrained in my sister’s DNA) and they will tell you the same thing.

Alabama is Big Brother to Auburn’s Little Brother. In football, in basketball, in tiddlywinks, in life.

And there is nothing Auburn can do about it.

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