Monday, November 22, 2010

New At al.com: Pregame Blogger Roundtable

My contribution to this week's pre-Auburn/Alabama Blogger Roundtable is up at al.com. A preview:

Question 1: Is the Iron Bowl the best rivalry in the country? Why or why not? What is your greatest Iron Bowl memory? Worst Iron Bowl memory? If you're an outsider to the game/state, on what level of crazy do you place Alabama and Auburn fans?

On the grounds of having beaten all of those questions to death many years ago, I'm going to cop out on this one. Scott Brown and I covered this ground in great detail in our book The Uncivil War a decade and a half back. For those who are interested, Amazon usually has several used copies on sale (for the Bama fans who aren't familiar with the book, it's a bipartisan effort--Scott is one of yours).

All that said, as we rumble through one of the flat-out ugliest periods in the history of the rivalry, here's a short excerpt from my introduction to that book, one that tried to address the positive aspects of this old family feud:

My favorite part of every Game, every year, has always been the playing of the National Anthem just before the battle begins. Stop and picture the scene for a moment. The stadium is always packed to capacity and beyond. The fans have been shouting at the players warming up for about two hours, and at each other for days, weeks, months. And then, for a brief moment, all fall silent as the band on the field plays a familiar tune. You can hear the wind as it wraps around the bowl of an arena where a moment earlier, you would have been lucky to hear yourself screaming. You can even hear the sound of the American flag whipping in that wind as it is raised above the throng. You look out at the vast gathering standing in expectant silence, and you realize that it is not hate at all that has brought them to this place, to this cathedral of grass and concrete and steel. You realize that this game, this experience, is a reaffirmation of what we really are. It is a statement of family, of state, of country, and yes, of religion. You take a deep breath of the cool Southern wind, and in that magical pause, you see all the things that bring us together, and you look far beyond the things that tear us apart.

And then, of course, the song ends, and you roar out your school's battle cry at the top of your lungs, and the war is on for another Game and another year. But you are always left with that warm stillness, filled with giddy anticipation, and whether you win or lose, that feeling will always be with you, until you come back the next year and experience it again. That's what draws us back, year after year, that's what keeps us thinking about this larger than life THING that happens once every twelve months.

3 comments:

Bob said...

I know I'm probably in the minority but I think we should quit calling it the Iron Bowl. The best thing that every happened was moving this game out of B'ham (I like B'ham don't get me wrong) and now the term Iron Bowl is sort of meaningless, IMO.

Will Collier said...

I agree, Bob. That name is as much a relic as Legion Field.

Jeff said...

I like the term Iron Bowl. Despite B'ham and Legion field being part of the past now, I like that part of our legacy. I like that Pat Dye helped break us free of the Bama/B'ham stronghold. I like that it was once considered a "neutral" site, even if it never was. I like that B'ham used to be called the "Pittsburgh of the south". Even though all of that is history, I appreciate being able to reference it every year with just the name of our unique game. And I like that others try to copy it, with their rivalry game names (egg bowl, uncivil war, etc.).