I was born and raised in South Carolina, right on the border of Georgia. I still live here, and I love my Palmetto State home, even if I am a Bama guy at heart.
For most of my life, I have been surrounded by Gamecocks, Tigers and Bulldogs. (For reasons of local employment, there is a large contingent of Penn St. fans where I live, and they used to all gather for games at a local brewery and watch games, complete with a life-size cut-out of Joe Paterno. I actually kind of admired them for that.)
That said, I have endured a lifetime of being an Alabama fan in a sea of people who root for the wrong team.
I try to make at least one game a season, and it’s refreshing to be amongst my people. When I have taken my kids to Tuscaloosa, I tell them that they do not, in fact, have to say, “Roll Tide” to everyone they pass who is wearing a Bama shirt, as that will be most everyone.
In Aiken, S.C., it’s a rarity. In Tuscaloosa, not so much.
Side note: Once, we were at a beach in South Carolina. My son was wearing a Bama shirt. There was a family from Ohio nearby, and I overhead them talking about how they heard Bama fans actually used “Roll Tide” as a greeting. (Clearly, they had seen the ESPN commercial.) My son walked past them. “Roll Tide,” one of them said, as a test. “Roll Tide,” my son said not missing a beat. So proud…
So you can imagine my delight when I got the chance recently to immerse my family in a sea of crimson at some time other than an autumn gameday. Even better when it’s your actual family.
I went to my family reunion in northern Alabama over the past weekend, and it’s safe to say that, should you be a fan of anyone other team, you might want to keep that information private.
Most every car in the parking lot had Alabama tags, stickers, etc. Crimson Tide hats and shirts were donned. Roll Tide was a perfectly acceptable Gibbons greeting. It was a perfect homecoming for an Alabama fan from a Gamecock town.
And lest any rival fans engage in stereotyping by imagining the type people attending this reunion, I was surrounded by professionals from all over the country – lawyers, writers, biologists, accountants, and teachers, among others. It’s always nice to be around family. It’s even better when you have a second layer of family that you can say Roll Tide to whenever you choose.