Rep. Ballentine, don’t quit the pigskin (being a fan is OK)

Originally uploaded by johnvierdsen

This is a rebuttal to Brad Warthen’s post, “Go cold turkey, Nathan; just go cold turkey.”

The State‘s editorial page editor, Brad Warthen, seems to think that quitting an intense addiction to football is a good thing. He counsels Rep. Nathan Ballentine, who is upset about the current state of USC’s season, that it’s better to quit and move on than nurse a devotion to a football program that upsets you on a yearly basis.

To this, Vierdsen says, “Fie!”

Warthen sites as his falling out with football when former Alabama star Joe Willie Namath and the New York Jets beat the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. Of course, his entire reasoning is bullshit.

He says that, “Football builds depression. Lose one game, and you’re chopped liver. That doesn’t help young folks grow strong and get themselves on Wheaties boxes.” Really? ‘Cause last time Vierdsen checked, Colts quarterback Johnny Unitas was in the Hall of Fame. That’s not chopped liver. That’s having a great career and getting beat by a superior team late in said career.

The fact that everything comes down to one game, not a series, like in baseball or basketball, is one of the beauties of football. The fact that every week is a playoff is one of the beauties of college football. But, if you’re not willing to take the slings and arrows, why be a fan anyway?

Losing is what makes being a fan worthwhile. You have to deal with the bad times, testing your faith in the team, to enjoy the good. When John first started watching Alabama, the Tide went to the Sugar Bowl (L v. Miami, 1989), Fiesta Bowl (L v. Louisville, 1990), Blockbuster Bowl (W v. Colorado, 1991), Sugar Bowl (W v. Miami, 1992), Gator Bowl (W v. North Carolina, 1993) and Citrus Bowl (W v. Ohio State, 1994). That was until the probation year of 1995. Then was a win over Michigan in the Outback Bowl in ’96. Over those years, Bama won the national championship, the SEC title twice, and came close to SEC and national titles two more times. Not a bad way to start out as a fan.

The next decade, 1997-2007, has been bad. There was an SEC championship in ’99, and 10-win seasons in ’99, ’02 and ’05, but the bad has been pretty damn bad. There were losing seasons in ’97 (4-7), 2000 (3-8), 2003 (4-9) and 2006 (6-7). The Tide’s currently dealing with an unprecedented six-game losing streak against Auburn. Bama’s on it’s fifth coach since Gene Stallings. It’s been rough.

Did John pack it up, ever? No. There’s always tomorrow, always a new season, and you never know what might happen. Right now, the Tide is No. 9 in the latest AP poll and things look good, so far.

This is all to say, yes, there will be ups, and yes, there will be downs. That’s what’s great. For a few weeks during the fall, you get to worry and care about something that you have absolutely no control over, which is, in its way, liberating. And, who doesn’t like some liberty, especially when it comes with a sporting event, barbecue and booze?

Even if you eschew the pulled pork and alcohol, it’s something not to be discounted. For years and years, football has bonded families in ways few other things have. For most of his teens (and 20s, for that matter), John and his dad couldn’t communicate very well to each other, but they could always find common ground talking about happenings on the gridiron. And that’s worth something, dammit.

Go cold turkey, Nathan; just go cold turkey [Brad Warthen’s Blog]
“Next Year” never comes [Nathan’s News]


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