It’s possible to be both a Tide fan and a spirited Blazer

By on January 14, 2013

This week, Alabama football fans are still basking in the crystal glow of the Tide’s 15th National Championship win. Even now, every third or fourth story on my social media feed relates to the game–gloating Bama fans, lamenting Irish-for-a-day fans, and Auburn fans vowing that the crystal will be theirs next year under the leadership of Gus Malzahn. I was born and raised cheering for the Crimson Tide, and this sometimes puts me in an awkward position as a UAB student.

The #FreeUAB movement started after the proposal for an on-campus stadium was passed over at a University of Alabama System Board of Trustees’ meeting, and is still going strong over a year later. In fact, many of the #FreeUAB’ers are some of the most ardent, dedicated supporters I’ve seen–of anything, ever. Don’t mistake that for a snide remark; I admire these people, many of whom are my friends. However, this brings me back to my awkward position.

On the big game day last week, interspersed with the pro- and anti-Alabama Facebook statuses, I spotted a few posts of a different breed: Pro-UAB. Some posted a mild, “Go Blazers,” or a witty comment about green and gold versus crimson and white, but I saw a few more fiery statuses refusing to root for any team but UAB (a generic paraphrase). Some were so fiery, in fact, that I felt just the tiniest bit uncomfortable parading around campus on the first day of classes in my “Crystal Dynasty” t-shirt. Turns out my worries weren’t unfounded: I received some blatantly
disapproving stares and even a couple of negative comments.

At this juncture, I feel I should clarify what I mean by “born and raised cheering for the Crimson Tide.” I wasn’t jumpy in the womb, but when a game was on and my daddy and brothers yelled, “interception” or “touchdown,” I did cartwheels–or so I’m told. My wedding colors were going to be dark red and ivory (before I eloped). Half of my father’s wardrobe is branded with the Alabama “A,” and anything Tide-related is a safe gifting bet for any member of my family. Picture 13-year-old Justin Bieber fan girls, only with game day buckets and jerseys.

But now let me show you what I view not as the flip-side of that coin, but as a different coin altogether: My crazy, fanatic love for UAB. I’ll tell anyone who will listen that I’ve loved every minute of my time here, and it’s absolutely true. Many a high school senior has fallen prey to my speeches about UAB’s merits, and some have been swayed to the green and gold from other collegiate options available to them. I even worked for the UAB Phone-a-thon to raise money for the school because I love it so much!

So I may still root for Bama due to a lifetime of fandom before setting foot on UAB’s campus, but the t-shirt I am wearing doesn’t change the fact that I am bursting with pride in all facets of our prestigious university. On UAB’s game days, I will post “Go Blazers” as much as I do “Roll Tide,” but I view the two as entirely distinct.

Being a Tide fan and a UAB student/Blazers supporter are not mutually exclusive commitments. The fact is, Alabama football is a nationally-recognized emblem, and now more than ever, it truly is a dynasty, a tradition. But my favorite UAB motto is, “Our nationally-recognized team wears scrubs,” and I think it is vital for us to remember that UAB constitutes a dynasty of its own–one that saves lives, heals people, and prepares its students to continue that legacy.

Laura Ann Tipps

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