Maybe you’ve heard — Tennessee upset Alabama in college football yesterday. As I understand it, the Tide missed a field goal with 15 seconds left in regulation, and then the Vols got close enough (in two plays) to kick the game-winner as time expired.
Pretty exciting. Good for Tennessee. But in my opinion, the outcome of the game wasn’t the best part.
Nope — what brought me the most joy was reading this morning that Vols fans tore the goal posts down.
It’s a celebratory tradition stretching back more than a hundred years, victorious vandalism taking place at all levels but most often associated with the college game, where raging hormones and consumption of cheap beer have the greatest effect. I can’t say that the practice is uniquely American, but it’s a very American thing to do.
And it doesn’t happen much any more.
There are still big wins and big rivalries, shocking upsets and snapped losing streaks. But especially in big-time college football, it’s rare to see fans rush the field and rip down the sticks.
In the tradition I’m most familiar with, Ohio State, I have fond and oh-so-vivid memories of being in the middle of exuberant post-game mobs in the mid-’70s. The frat house where I lived displayed a crossbar that had been ceremoniously removed from Ohio Stadium after a win over That Team Up North. But it’s been over 30 years since the goal posts at The ‘Shoe last came down.
These days cops form a triangular perimeter around the base of the goal posts right before the game ends. Anyone who still manages to reach the posts will find them greased and, most likely, will be cuffed and detained.
Deb and I were on that field after The Game in 2006 and 2012. We can testify that the show of force is no show — a friend of ours got a snoot-full of OC for daring to approach the phalanx.
OSU fans now have been conditioned to not even try. It’s damned sad.
Is that un-American? I say it’s less American. Sure, I understand security concerns and liability exposure and all that latter-day stuff. But we’ve lost something absolutely essential to sport in general, and to the culture of college football in particular.
Today I’ll raise a double-shot of Jack to the Tennessee faithful for doing their part to get it back.
Our very good Sunday began before we went to bed last night — around 9:30pm we saw a flicker of lightning, heard the rumble of thunder and felt the cool relief of raindrops on our skin. It rained steadily pretty much all night long, and no one ’round here is complaining.
As far as I know, wet weather didn’t spoil the final hours of the Turkey Trot over in Yellville, which ran late into the night. When we drove through town this morning, approaching the county courthouse we looked to our right to see what the festival’s aftermath looked like.
There was no evidence the event had even happened. Not a speck of trash, no booths or barrels, nothing. Volunteers showed up at first light — on a Sunday morning, mind you, in the Bible Belt — and cleaned up their town. It really was quite remarkable. We’re not used to seeing that kind of pride in the town we came from.
We had reason to swing through Flippin, too, on our way to The Mountain today. Sitting at the stop sign at US Route 62, we lingered to take in the view captured in today’s header image — those misty mountains are our Home.
We ran the Ranger (fitted with its spiffy new rifle case) up to the summit this afternoon. Deb took the wheel, bringing us to our favorite spot, and we spent more time there than we usually do.
The peace of that place soothes the soul. Pictures — which we took lots of today — can’t come close to telling the story, but that’s all we have.
We’ll be leaving here Tuesday morning for our younger boy’s wedding in Ohio. I expect we’ll be back late Sunday, possibly Monday. We’re taking the truck, not the bus, and I don’t plan to pack my computer, so there’s a good chance this blog will be quiet (perhaps even silent) over the next week.
Scout and Dipstick will join us for the trip. That promises to be fascinating.
We’ve known about The Joyous Occasion for over a year, and we wouldn’t want to be anywhere else on that special day. But as you’d expect, we can’t get back to The Ozarks soon enough.
Tomorrow we’ll get ready to go.
Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.