Understanding the difference between Alabama and Tennessee

al.comI grew up in Alabama but have lived in Tennessee for the past 30 years. If you’ve never lived in both Alabama and Tennessee, you may wonder how the states are different. Earlier today, when I surfed to the joint-news-website of the Birmingham News, Huntsville Times and Mobile Press-Register, AL.com, to look for some analysis of the historic primary election yesterday, I was greeted by this front page. At first, I thought I must have landed on the sports page, but no, that’s the front page of the entire news website. Tornados in northern Alabama and Alabama voters nominating an African-American for President get below-the-fold treatment compared to the real story of the day: NCAA National Football Signing Day.

Last night in his post-election speech, Mike Huckabee (who, if you live in Alabama and may have missed it due to coverage of signing day, won the state’s Republican presidential primary) spent two or three minutes running through SEC football references. If you thought he won Alabama because he’s an evangelical Southern Baptist, well, think again. He won because he is an evangelical SEC football fan.

In Alabama, where I grew up, the most dominant religion is football. More important than who people select to be President of the United States is what college a high school football standout has selected. More important than the wind speed of killer tornados is the 40-yard sprint speed of a promising wide receiver.

The difference in Alabama and Tennessee? In Tennessee, we’re fundamentalist football fans, but perhaps not quite as evangelical.

(Note: The three newspapers are owned by Advanced Media, owner of CondeNast and American Business Journals. In other words, they know their audience.)

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  • Amen, Rex. Today’s a high holy day here in Alabama, and not because it’s Ash Wednesday. Not being much of a college football fan [I’ve got family on both sides of the Iron Bowl, including a cousin who starred at WR for the Tide] and preferring college hockey [proud UAH alum here 🙂 ], I know that the three most important sports in Alabama are college football, spring football, and signing day.

    And I hate it.

  • Last fall I learned just how rabid Alabamans are. We had to take my mom to the ER on the Saturday night when the Tide played Georgia. There were four guys sitting in front of me saying things like oh Saban is just like the Bear he has them running scared. I made the mistake of saying guys things will never be like they were in the old days…ya need to get over it. They turned around and looked at me like they were going to beat the living daylights out of me. Here’s the thing though you could tell that none of them had ever been to T-town much less a college campus and heck by the way they looked they probably didnt even graduate high school. Three of the four were missing teeth and the other one looked like he had just got out of prison. As far as recruiting goes…I think theres a warm place in you know where waiting on credit card companies and these recruiting services. The way they prey upon these kids and profit from them is absolutely shameful.

  • Rex Hammock

    I’m not sure I like having peoples’ religion attacked here. Also I have no problem with people being fans of teams of colleges they’ve never attended. However, after seeing the Super Bowl on Sunday and noticing that the sponsored name of the venue where it was played is “The University of Phoenix Stadium,” I’ve decided it would be a good thing for that for-profit institution to actually have a football team so that anyone could sign up for a course there online and be able to cheer for a college team where they were a student. They could stream the games each Saturday. It would be virtually exciting.

  • Great observation of news judgment and football fanaticism. I, for one, am proud of my Alabama roots but thrilled to now live among fellow Tennessee fundamentalists with a less contentious in-state SEC rivalry. (That’s right, Tennessee fans, it’s a “rivalry.”) It would be difficult to be both a Commodores fan and an evangelist. God bless those ‘Dores fans who are.