Walk Like An American

Roll, Tide!

My First College Football Experience

Constantino Diaz-Duran is a fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University. He is chronicling his walk from New York to Los Angeles to celebrate his eligibility for American citizenship. Follow Constantino’s progress.

The stereotype is true. People in the South are religious. They are fanatics. Their biggest religion? College football.

I was introduced to the ritual last Saturday in Tuscaloosa. It was homecoming at the University of Alabama, and the Crimson Tide was out in full force. Donning a houndstooth hat borrowed from my host, I hung out at my first tailgate and attended my first college football game.

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They made a convert out of me. I’m even on record in the Tuscaloosa News saying that I’ll be a ’Bama fan from here on out. I’ll admit that disclosing this bit of information concerns me. I still have to walk through Baton Rouge, and I don’t want incur the wrath of the LSU Tigers. But there it is, I opened my big mouth, and there’s not much I can do about it now. I only hope my host in Oxford, Alabama-an Auburn fan-isn’t too mad at me now.

But what’s even worse is that this news item also implies that I broke a law. I won’t name names, but someone offered me a few sips of something called “Apple Pie.” I will plead complete innocence, though, and say that I never (never!) thought this sweet homemade beverage could possibly contain any alcohol, much less the illegal kind. To support my case I will submit that the moon shone all night, and my view of it was never blurred.

A couple of weeks ago I had another football first. I attended a high school game in Villa Rica, Georgia. That day also happened to be homecoming. As my readers might have gathered, I am a baseball guy, and there is only one team to which I will profess full loyalty-the Yankees. But all this football is starting to draw me in. Back in Atlanta I even wore an Ohio Buckeyes necklace to watch a game on TV, and my host made me “kiss the buckeyes! kiss the buckeyes!” whenever they were about to score.

Meanwhile, I continue to enjoy the South. I am trying to make it to the Big Easy by Halloween. Not sure what I’ll go as, but feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments section.

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*Photo by Constantino Diaz-Duran.