Whit’s End: Ties to home run deep
What is loyalty?
Most Colorado residents hail from somewhere else. That leads to mixed connections to place. Some folks moved here to get the heck out of dodge and couldn’t be paid enough to return to their home states.
I love where I come from. I’m a native Alabamian, as anyone who has read this column or heard my accent knows. After spending most of my formative years in Florida, I returned to Alabama as resources allowed. But after 14 years, I was ready for a change, both professionally and personally.
And so here I am.
This isn’t an unusual experience. I’ve discussed it in print and in person many times. But loyalty is on my mind as the college football season kicks off.
We have a lot of fun with that in our newsroom. We’re broken into two triads of desks, and my group is the college football half of the group. We wait each day to see which team’s paraphernalia Sports Editor Josh Carney will sport. He’s got loyalties for every support and at every level, it seems. Ask about his favorite minor league baseball teams the next time you see him!
Engagement Editor Sallee Ann Ruibal is an Ohio State Buckeye. She’s not the world’s biggest football fan, but she’s serious enough to throw shade when Josh and I get going. As I write, she’s wearing an Ohio Against the World shirt, an indirect reference to her team. We argue often about whose football coach is superior (and Josh always sides with me).
But here’s the real challenge: I hold degrees from both Florida State University and the University of Alabama. If you care even a little about college football, you know what that means: This weekend, my alma maters face off in the week’s most anticipated game.
Friends near and far love to ask, what happens when my two teams meet on the gridiron? We’ve got only one other example from my lifetime. On Sept. 29, 2007, the two met in Jacksonville, Florida—the city where I was raised—for one of the most heart wrenching football games I’ve experienced. Both teams played terribly, to be honest. It was a race to the bottom, and Alabama claimed it. It was the first time I rooted against Florida State, and I hoped it would be the last.
No such luck.
My college friends tease me about this matchup, and many don’t understand why I choose Alabama over the school where I earned my bachelor’s degree. Undergrad is different, they argue. Undergrad is special.
And that’s true; it’s when I met most of the friends who remain dearest to me today. I’ll always be partial to Florida State.
Except when its teams face Alabama’s. I became a Florida State fan in April 1999, when I realized the school offered me too much money to turn down. I can’t remember a day when I wasn’t an Alabama fan.
But for everyday life, I’ve chosen Colorado over my native Alabama. My loyalties are divided, but my heart rejoices here.
Carla Jean Whitley would like to attend a Colorado-Colorado State game, but this isn’t the year. Send your football-oriented trash talk to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.