We watched Fever Pitch last night, which I liked for MANY reasons. But my favorite thing about the movie? I think it VERY accurately portrayed the emotions behind having sports teams to root for. “Dog People” always agree with each other that “Non-Dog People” don’t understand how we can get SO upset when a pet dies. It’s an emotional connection that people who have never had dogs can rarely understand.
The EXACT same thing goes for Sports People.
Now, I am not as extreme as Jimmy Fallon was in the movie. MrZ has me beat in all time knowledge of the teams I root for. Stats? Not my thing. Historical trends and betting lines? Bah. But watching a team do something that makes you cry? Been there. Done that.
I grew up in Knoxville, TN – so I didn’t have much of a choice other than being a TN Vols fan. However, it was my Mom and her friends who really turned me to the Orange Nation. We would spend Saturdays watching the games surrounded by people who sang Rocky Top whenever the band played it (an average of about 40+ times a game). Everyone wore orange on EVERYTHING. I remember taking LilZ to his first Grammy Football Experience in October 1995. We drove to Knoxville to watch the TN/AL game with all of her friends. He fell asleep halfway through the game and even stayed asleep while I held him against my chest screaming at the top of my lungs: “ROCKY TOP….YOU’LL ALWAYS BE…” because we had just beat Alabama for the FIRST time in TEN YEARS.
And we all declared LilZ the good luck charm, of course.
I will never forget that night and the power of a victory that I had been waiting for for TEN YEARS. The excitement was brilliant and the energy was intoxicating. And I cried.
I spend most of my Saturdays (at least the last 11 years or so) surrounded by NON-VOL fans. I live in Alabama, it comes with the territory. I’m the one in the orange. See what I mean? Well, the SEC Championship game of 1997 was no different. I was watching it at Stace’s house surrounded by people rooting for Auburn. We were down 20-7 to Auburn in the second quarter and they would NOT let me ignore that fact. I ended up hiding in a bedroom to watch the rest of the game. We ended up winning 30-29, and the feeilng of being able to step OUT of that bedroom and smack talk the entire house? Priceless. I cried.
But nothing has as much emotion tied up in it as the 1998 Season. My mom’s roommate of 8 years, Enza, died unexpectedly early in the season. She and my mom were both VERY extreme Vol fans and the next game after she died was the TN/Florida game. Then entire game I sat there praying for a win, not only because I hated Steve Spurrier with every ounce of my soul (still do), but also because there was some part of all of us who knew Enza that would feel like IF Tennessee won, it would make her death make sense. We won off a botched field goal from Florida. A field goal he SHOULD have made. My mother called me immediately and said, as she’s screaming, “Enza noogied the kicker! She noogied the kicker!” I cried quite a bit that night too.
We ended up having a perfect season that year, and becoming National Champions. If there is a God, he definitely put Enza in charge of NCAA football that year. The emotions behind every game ran so high that I spent the entire season drunk. Seriously.
But non-sports people? Just don’t get it.
I may not be AS into Vol football as I’ve been before, but the emotions are still there. I am embarassed to say how many times I’ve teared up and said to MrZ when he insults someone related to TN football “See? That’s just NOT nice. I don’t insult YOUR players, please don’t insult mine.” Seriously, it has made me CRY before. But we try our best to respect each other’s preferences. But, when MrZ cried a little over Bama beating the Gators two weeks ago? I cried too. Because I know that feeling. That feeling of FINALLY seeing the team you root for with ALL your heart and ALL your soul, see that team FINALLY go above and beyond what you were hoping for. It’s an amazing thing that only sports people understand.
So today, for MrZ? I’ll say, “Roll Tide!”
Next week? A whole other story…