I’ve got Spirit in my Britches!

(Originally posted, October 4, 2010)

The following cheer sings to the tune of “She’ll be coming ’round the mountain when she comes!” Everyone ready?? OKAY!! Let’s sing!!!

I’ve got Spirit in my Britches, yes I doooo!
I’ve got Spirit in my Britches, yes I dooooooo!
I’ve got Spirit in my Britches and it really, really itches,
I’ve got Spirit in my Britches, yes I dooooooo!

Wow! That was great! Thanks for joining in! Next time, I’ll teach you the words to the University of Alabama fight song! I know all the words. By heart. No really, I do!! No kidding!!

Those of you who have known me for any length of time, know that anything remotely related to sports–ANY sport– is quite high on my “Bucket list”…of things to avoid. I guess the word “Apathetic” would best describe my attitude toward the sporting realm. I just really don’t care.

Over the years, this attitude of apathy toward sports–especially Football–has been a source of consternation for many of my friends and even some members of my family. Apparently, when a child is born in Alabama, before the parents are allowed to leave the hospital important decisions must be made. Following the difficult choice of selecting the child’s name, parents must then sign that name inside one of two sacred, hallowed logs for future football allegiance: The University of Alabama Crimson Tide OR Auburn University War Eagles. There were no other choices. My family must have signed my name into the Auburn University book, for as a child, my Daddy would cheer and yell for Auburn. With all that cheering and yelling during those ballgames, Daddy, over the course of time, destroyed a foot stool before my very eyes. According to hometown legend, my Aunt Connie and Uncle Fred were founding members of the Auburn University fan club. They would do exotic things like attend out of town ballgames and allow their blood pressure to reach lofty heights during games that must have been of great importance.
An Auburn game on TV? An Auburn game the radio? Why choose when you can watch one and listen to BOTH?!? Everyone was SO excited!! Except me. This was the recipe for Saturday of misery a la mode, with the cherry on top being the team colors: ORANGE and Blue. When the planets would line up against me, game day would coincide with a family gathering. Sigh… When it seemed the “correct” thing to do, I would try to appear excited and yell out at appropriate times. I would constantly look to my family members for clues–body language and facial expressions would allow me to remain “safe.” “Safe” being knowing what was actually going on during a football game. For I had no clue what was going on during a football game. N O T A C L U E. It all seemed so barbaric–grown men from an institute of higher learning running about the grass trying to annihilate one another. Was I missing something?
My secret stayed safe for a while…sort of. Until I began graduate school…at The University of Alabama. My Mama and Daddy, like me, were just glad that I was attending a school that awarded me a graduate assistantship. When word got out amongst family that I would be attending The University of Alabama, plucking my name from the log of Auburn devotees (so they thought) that had held my name since birth, well, it wasn’t pretty. Prayers were surely offered in my behalf, begging the Lord to have Auburn come through with an assistantship or requesting the Heavenly Father to look the other way while I went to that other school. I finally had to explain that I really didn’t care for Auburn, and I really didn’t care for Alabama either–the football teams. I was going to The University of Alabama for a graduate degree. That degree was not to be in football. Besides, I look terrible in orange.
Allow me to add some words of note: Think you’ve witnessed football fan intensity and devotion of monumental proportion? Perhaps you have. If you have not lived in Alabama, to experience the intensity of devotion for Alabama and Auburn fans, I hate to tell you–you haven’t. There is nothing like it. NOTHING I tell you! Dare I use the word “Rabid?”
My first semester at The University of Alabama began January 1990. Thrown mid school year into a new group of friends fresh from football season, it didn’t take long before any hope of “laying low” with the ‘Bama fans was dashed for good. Consider the following conversation snippits…
Bama Fan #1: “What did you think about –insert name of Quarterback that year– this season? Me: “Who?” Result: Very concerned, some might say perplexed look on Bama fan’s face.
Bama Fan #2: “Did you make it to any games this year?” Me: “Uh, no…” Result: Rumors rapidly began to circulate that I was an infiltrating spy from the “other” school.
Bama Fans #3 and #4: “Hey we heard you didn’t go to any games this year! Is that actually true?!?” Me: “Yes, it’s true.” BF’s #3, #4: Audible gasps, chins drop. Me: “Actually, I have never been to an Alabama football game.” Result: Paremedics were called posthaste.
Not long thereafter, it was widely known that a living, breathing anomaly was roaming about campus. A novelty of sorts, though he (me) did make a memorable dish or two for church potlucks. However, by the time football season rolled around, a dear friend saw that I needed a little help. Everyone needs to fit in on some level. Even the anomaly.
In steps Jeanne Hicks, surely a name of note in the Alabama fan log since the ink dried following her mothers signature. If I remember correctly, this is how I got “Spirit in my Britches!”
Jeanne approached me, speaking in a very serious tone. “Okay Barry, if you are going to have a degree from The University of Alabama, you have GOT to at LEAST learn the Alabama fight song!” And so, Jeanne proceeded to teach me the words and tune to THE Alabama fight song. Finally, a member of the crowd!! I fit in!! Now at every football game, I would know what to do every single time they made a home run!!!
Of course, the few games I attended while at The Capstone (that’s the University’s nickname), I would only stay through half-time. Once I saw what everyone was wearing and got to hear the band (The Million Dollar Band….FAB-U-LUS!) I was ready to go home. But were there any home runs in that first half, I knew the words to the song!!! WOO-HOO!! Thanks again, Jeanne!
Epilogue: Fast forward 17 years… Now living in Dallas, Texas I rarely even know when Bama games are taking place. Well, as luck would have it, last December I happened to be in a neighbors condo dropping something off. A football game was on TV…fans were cheering…probably a home run or something. A band started playing, and I froze in my tracks. I gasped for air. I recognize that tune! I know the words to that song! And there in my neighbors condo, I stood tall and sang the words to The Alabama fight song! I was so proud of myself! I guess that actually does make me some sort of a football fan. After all, I look much better in Crimson.

This is the school crest on the sweatshirt I bought my first semester at UA, and it still fits!
And how could I end this post without the words to the fight song…
Yea Alabama! Drown ‘em Tide! Every Bama fans behind you, hit your stride! Go teach the bulldogs to behave, send the yellow jackets to a watery grave! And if a man starts to weaken, thats a shame, for Bama’s pluck and grit have writ her name in Crimson flame! Fight on, fight on, fight on men! Remember the Rose Bowl! We’ll win then! Go, roll to victory, hit your stride, you’re Dixie’s football pride Crimson Tide! Roll Tide! Roll Tide!

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