02 September 2008


This Labor Day weekend was an experience I will never forget. Years ago I read Joe Meyers' book called A Search to Belong. It challenges readers to understand community and intimacy in a different ways by opening one's eyes to the idea of community in terms of spaces. One of those spaces is the connection one feels with a group of strangers at say a large sporting event. People you may have nothing in common with, or know nothing about, suddenly are your closest and most favorite people as you together rally and scream for a shared interest, a sports team.

So at nearly my first ever live college football event (I do mean event, as it clearly is more than a mere game), as I traveled to Atlanta over Labor Day weekend, I experienced connection with people in amazing ways. It's a bit unnerving, honestly, as I reflect on the experience. Part of it relates directly to the clothing.
People wearing similar clothing, or at very least, clothing with the same color and logo, exchange things like inside jokes and secret handshakes, except that they don't appear to be exclusive about it, or want to keep it a secret. The more people involved the better.

Hours before the game, if someone saw you and the associated ball cap with logo (or whatever branded clothing, etc.), they share a greeting. I soon discovered that this particular greeting, "Roll tide!" is something akin to "hello!" "goodbye" "how are you?" "good luck" and everything in between.

And then on the subway, on the way to the game, it's not only a greeting, it's a battle cry. (Imagine the rumble as one person begins the slow and then becoming thundering--say like a rush of elephants or something-rrrrrrrooooolllltttttiiiiIIIIIIIDDDDDDEEEEEEE!)

Now, should any of the opposing team choose to ride this same subway, well, let's just say, it's probably safer for them to have their own car, or really, entire train if pressed. In this jungle, an elephant can easily crush a tiger you see.
As one who donned the shirt, and rushed with the crowd for the first time, I must say,
it was quite an honor to participate in the tradition
and feel so much like, well,
like I belonged.
Roll Tide Roll!

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