For over a thousand years we have fought our enemies. When they are vanquished, we fight among ourselves. This predisposition for conflict, this affinity for strife, came over with us from across the big pond. It wasn’t a part of the cargo — it was the cargo, flowing within our arteries and veins.
Over on this side the battlefields were at places called Manassas, Shiloh, Harpers Ferry, and Gettysburg. Landscapes now designated by stone monuments and markers, all but forgotten except in our collective subconscious memory. Pastoral scenery where blood spilled-out like winter rain onto farm and woodland soil. Mostly Celtic and Saxon blood. Blood which has never mixed well, except on the smooth surfaces of cannon balls and the razor-sharp edges of sabers and bayonets.
Some scholars and most revisionists will tell you that nearly a million souls died over the concept of slave labor. I don’t buy it. There were simply too many men involved without a dog in that fight — dirt farmers and hillbillies with few possessions other than their pride. I believe the motivation has always been encoded in the blood: “you think you are better than me, but you are not.”
It continues today on other battlefields. Places like Pasadena, Ann Arbor, South Bend, and Norman. When those foes are vanquished we turn on each other in Athens, Tuscaloosa, Baton Rouge and Gainesville. Conflicts still fought in pastoral settings where sweat (and sometimes blood) soak into manicured turf.
It is college football, lived and played in the South.
And if you think my analogy is a “stretch” explain why log truck drivers, brick-layers, and other blue-collar laborers who have never set foot on a college campus are the most consumed by Saturdays in the fall. It defines them — gives them a sense of pride and place. Men who daily wear the colors and can easily offer-up the account of a game played twenty years ago with as much detail as Shelby Foote described Gettysburg.
“You think you are better than me, but you are not.”
My boys prove it every Saturday, every fall, every year.