Why would a Southern blog about writing have an entry about football?
For one thing, my old VCU buddy Dick Mercer just finished reading UNDENIABLE TRUTHS and wondered why there was not a SEC football story in the collection. Dick, a big Michigan fan who used to fly the Big Blue M flag every game day, remembers all our heated discussions about the the bowl system vs playoffs, SEC vs Big 10, Michigan vs Alabama. In our kinder moments, we would share our fondest football memories. Dick has little reason to cheer these days. He claims that he has lost his taste for college football since it's become a game dominated by big money. Right.
Hey, Dick, if you're reading this: Sour grapes, buddy. If Michigan were headed to the BCS Championship Game in the Rose Bowl, I think you would be dusting off that Big Blue flag of yours and planning a big party for Jan. 7, forgetting all about how unfair the system is, forgetting the implied stance that right-thinking, morally-superior universities spend their dollars to fight real problems such as global warming, not on fun and pigskin games.
The above comment is, of course, trash talking. Smack talk. A smart-ass taunt. Commonly about sports. Smack talk is an American verbal pastime, not just a Southern one.
But my oh my how the words have flown since Saturday's game where the SEC's Crimson Tide of Alabama, the underdogs according to those who bet money, outscored the SEC's Florida Gators 32-13. It's like sundown and a full moon at the insane asyllum. Everybody's suddenly got a rant. When emotion runs high, the verbage runs on and on.
And it's not as if I'm seeking out these diatribes. I get on FaceBook to check a message from a non-Southern, non-SECfootball-fan friend and WHAM, smack talk. The majority of my FaceBook friends are not Alabamians, and a great many are not Southern, but I was amazed how many commented on Saturday's game. This is what I gleaned: there are people from all over the USA and other English speaking countries with satellite TV who apparently were not impressed with the media version of Tim Tebow and his showy public prayers. To them, Tim Tebow was a synonym for self conceit. I did not see any vulgar or pornographic comments regarding Florida's defeat. I saw a lot of relief from those who were now not going to have to continue watching what television has been showing them over and over this season and last: Tim Tebow, self-satisfied, reveling in his almost single-handed brute physical defeat of yet another "lesser" team. Of course he always threw in a few phrases such as 'god bless' at the end of his sound bites. After all, one would not want to appear full of hubris or lacking in humility.
SEC football is not an international sport, but television is no longer regional. My daughter in China gets most of her news from the BBC. She can watch any Alabama game in real time on her computer. I wonder what I would think if I were from another country and, unable to understand the words, only saw the visual images of last Saturday's game. Tim Tebow with Bible verses painted underneath his eyes, Tim Tebow who loves this violent bone-crushing game of football, Tim Tebow becoming more and more agitated as it became clear that one way the other team was winning was by keeping him out of the game, Tim Tebow crying when his team was defeated.
According to my friend Philip Shirley who was at the game and who writes about Alabama football, Tebow was the gentleman after the game, waiting to congratulate the winning team.
TV didn't dwell on that.
But all of that is behind us now. I feel a Thelma and Louise style road trip coming on. To the Rose Bowl. A serendipitous journey across Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, the bottom part of the USA, all the way to Pasadena. The two characters arriving tired, dirty, and strung out on Red Bulls. Their mouths agape like Andy Griffith as they stand there looking at the stadium with its palm trees and mountains in the distance. I'm thinking novella. With a screenplay later.
But I'm going to need some "body experience".
Anyone want to help me drive?