The University of Tennessee is my double alma mater. I took my undergrad English and doctoral Education degrees from there. Many of the landmark events of my life occurred on campus or were put into motion by campus events. I remember my university fondly (but not fondly enough to increase my annual gift, so hold off on that letter, UT Development Office).
The football program is more than a football game to me. Although I admit to being a rapid fan, I see sports as a way of staying attached to a place that I left long ago but still hold in my heart. That’s what makes today’s loss to Florida painful. The team didn’t just lose–the loss brought back memories of similar losses over the years and the obnoxious comments of the most obnoxiousest fans in college sports–Gators, you know I’m talking about you.
On the other hand, the loss didn’t sting that much. By tomorrow, I’ll be watching the NFL, and this game will be set aside. This is a change from when I was younger, when a loss to Florida or Alabama upset me for a year. You could say that it’s just me getting older and putting things in perspective. It’s not. Honestly, I’m not mature enough about sports to put things in perspective. I think my attitude changed because Tennessee won a national championship in 1999.
When UT beat Florida State in the first BCS, I was thrilled. As a Tennessee boy, I’d been waiting for at championship for years and years. But I realized that the effects of that win didn’t last nearly as long as the losses stung. Nobody talks trash about a win. Nobody sends emails about how well your team played. Also, nobody gives fans a million dollar bonus like UT gave the coach. As a fan, your life doesn’t change much. Bills still come due, the kids still have to eat, work still has to be done.
So my UT friends will have to forgive me for not getting ticked that Urban Meyer ran up the score, that John Chavis’ defense once again quit playing, or that Phil Fulmer was, as always, at a loss to make adjustments. There are still bills to pay, kids to feed, and a lawn to mow before the Colts play tomorrow.
PS. This doesn’t change the fact that Gators still–and always will–suck.