Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Amy's Extraordinary Alabama: Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer

By Amy

I'd heard of Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer by Warren St. John in passing, but never gave much thought to reading it. Even though I enjoy Alabama football games I don't know that I would consider myself a die-hard fan. So when my sister-in-law gifted our father-in-law a copy of the book I read a few pages and knew I wanted to read it. Of course it helped that Alabama was having such an amazing season. Reading over that last line I might need to clarify and say the football team at the University of Alabama, just in case anyone who is not from Alabama and not familiar with Alabama football is reading this.

Having grown up in Birmingham, Alabama, Warren St. John readily admits that growing up in Alabama is "possibly the worst place on earth to acquire a healthy perspective on the importance of spectator sports." And having been born and raised here myself I have to agree.

After moving to New York to attend Columbia University, St. John begins to realize that maybe this obsession we all have with football here in Alabama is a bit different. As he writes, "It was quite an adjustment to go from coutning up a record number of wins under the Bear to the inexorable accumulation of a record number of losses at Columbia. And just as disconcerting: no one at Columbia seemed to mind." He really begins to wonder about the strangeness of it all when home for Thanksgiving he sees a couple at Legion Field in a RV being interviewed by the local news. They tell the reporter they missed their daughter's wedding because she picked the Alabama/Tennessee game day to get married.

So in his search for answers to the question of why sports can turn otherwise sane people into raving lunatics he seeks out the community of RVers who travel to each Alabama game. Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer isn't so much a travel story, but St. John's own experiences as one of those hard core fans who follow their team.

Having grown up in Alabama myself I understand the almost religious nature of college football here. Honestly the only people I know who aren't Alabama or Auburn fans are a rare few that did not grow up in Alabama and my mother, who belongs in the small minority of those who don't really care for sports. According to St. John my mother belongs in a minority outnumbered by atheist in our state. A fact I have no problem believing.

Although my husband's family doesn't take an RV to each Alabama game, they very rarely miss an Alabama home game. My father-in-law supports the University of Alabama, his alma mater, without waver. Crimson and white, houndstooth, elephants and Roll Tide are in the blood in our family, with the exception of one sister-in-law who graduated from Auburn.

Life stops for Alabama football games. My dad, who is serving overseas with his national guard unit, set his alarm to wake up in the middle of the night so he could watch some of the Alabama games this past fall. Imagine a bunch of Alabama soldiers when the hub housing the wiring for everything burned knocking out their means of watching the Alabama/Auburn game during Alabama's glorious 2009 season.

So it should come as no surprise that reading Rammer Jammer was like seeing our family's life played out on the page without the RV aspect. The obsession, joyful moments of a win, and the depressing moods of a loss described by St. John need no explanation. I see it in my husband and countless others each Saturday from August to December.

So have you read Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer? What is life like in your family during Fall or better know as Alabama or Auburn football?

You can also visit St. John's blog here. (Be sure and scroll down and watch the YouTube video of the little toddler -- well, unless you're an Auburn fan. Don't say I didn't warn you if you do though.)


T Scott said...

I would actually consider myself an anti-football fan. I've lived in Alabama for fifteen years and have no interest whatsoever in college football (I keep up, of course, just so I can participate in conversations during the fall). That said, I absolutely loved St. John's book. Because he's a great reporter/writer, and also a real fan himself, he is able to tell the stories about some of the more extreme fan behavior without ever being condescending. Reading the book didn't make me any more of a fan, but it gave me much more sympathy and appreciation for those who live by the game.

Maggie said...

I love this book. I am a die hard Bama fan, I graduated from the University in 2007. My family plans everything around football. My dad said he wouldn't pay for a wedding in the fall! I knew better anyway!

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

nice post. thanks.

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