Thursday, March 09, 2006

The ACC & Non Natives

As a relative newcomer to Nawf Cackalacky (that's "North Carolina" to all you furriners (that's "non-southerners," or "foreigners")), I'm astounded by the disgusting obsession with the goddam ACC and basketball. I'm not surprised that the local yokels are fans of college basketball: the teams along Tobacco Road (from west to east: Wake Forest, UNC, Duke, and NC State) have a history of pounding holy hell out of opponents, and the conference itself has a great record in national tournaments. Among the four teams, there have been a total of 35 final four appearances. In the past few years, preseason polls usually place at least five ACC teams in the top twenty-five.

So they're good. Really good. But these people go insane. This is not a lie - my wife has experienced it firsthand - students expect that during ACC Tournament time, teachers will stop instruction and turn on "the game." You read that correctly: ACC TOURNAMENT TIME. The ACC Tournament is an unofficial holiday around here: shopping picks up, families sit together at home, and everyone's wearing a college t-shirt. Fans of these schools get abusive; even more interesting, many of the most rabid and evil fans (the ones you hear talking trash to students at other schools) couldn't get into these schools when it was time for them to go to college (we will face facts that admission standards at Wake Forest, UNC, Duke, and NC State are extremely competitive).

I grew up in football country. Perhaps that's why I don't get it. I was raised around schools whose football teams are historically great. The big difference? Football games are on Saturdays. I remember Knoxville, Tennessee (where I was born) shutting down on Saturdays: the river was a sea of orange and white bedecked boats, the entire town was covered in Orange, and if you weren't at the stadium (where over 100,000 fans were vibrating the earth), you were in a sports bar or at home in front of the television. WVU fans are almost as insane: nobody in his right mind will drive on I-79 North between Charleston and Morgantown on Saturday, and likewise I-79 South between same on Sunday.

These were weekend phenomena, and only included a dozen games, plus the inevitable bowl. People might get worked up over rivalry games (Tennessee/Alabama, WVU/Pittsburgh/Maryland), but that wouldn't interfere with daily life. Outside of baseball, I'd say that college football is probably the greatest sport in the U.S. (I can't include hockey, because although the NHL is better than NCAA football, most of the players are from Canada or northern Europe). Forget the NFL: it's too even. NFL players are too damn big and too damn good to make it entertaining to watch. There aren't any surprises. In NCAA football, there's always a stunner, an amazing upset that defies all odds, because, let's face it, these kids won't reach their full potential until their early 20's, and some developing player will always shock the world (Example: Philip Rivers - nobody thought that his short frame and sidearm passing style would work well, but he broke damn near every QB record in the book).

Oh well.
Currently playing on miPod: "Money" by Pink Floyd

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