From my weekly article at WorldMag.com:
|photo credit: DumbYellowDog via photopin cc|
I have lived in Tennessee for less than a week. Last weekend we moved there from Illinois, my residence for the past 12 years and the passionate home of the NFL’s Chicago Bears. I grew up in Minnesota, in downtown Minneapolis, just down the street from the Metrodome, where the Vikings and the Minnesota Golden Gophers played football. So for the past 30 years I have been around football and watched grown-ups don the jerseys of their favorite players, paint their faces, and holler themselves hoarse rooting their teams on to victory.
But all that fervor I experienced in the Midwest can’t touch what I have so far encountered down South, even in our small neighborhood outside of Nashville. Take a 10-minute stroll and you’ll see license plates, flags, window decals, bumper stickers, and all forms of clothing representing the Georgia Bulldogs, Vanderbilt Commodores, Kentucky Wildcats, and Florida Gators—and all of them under the ubiquitous orange neon glow of the Tennessee Volunteers.
I’ve long heard it said that people in the South “take their football seriously.” Well, that’s an understatement. No soccer fan in England or Brazil can surpass the football passion of American Southerners. Here, it’s not a sport or a hobby; it’s a culture.
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