Thursday, January 07, 2010

The NASCARification of College Football

I don't think it's any coincidence that, with the Southeastern Conference's rise to college football prominence (and, it could be argued, preeminence) over the past several years, that the sport has been influenced by a sort of NASCAR mentality.

I mean, when did rooting for conferences (as opposed to rooting for teams and against arch-rivals) become so widespread? It happened when SEC fans became so vocal in promoting their conference at the expense of every other conference in the country. It wasn't enough for the favorite team - say, Florida, Alabama, or LSU - to win; a fan of one of those schools also hyped the conference as superior to all others. A Florida Gator fan or LSU Tiger fan, for example, became an SEC fan.

Similar to the way NASCAR fans root for not only their favorite driver, but also for that driver's make of car (and against drivers of other makes of car). The Southeast and Mid-Atlantic are the regions of the country where NASCAR is most popular, so I find it not the least bit coincidental that the same mentality has spilled over into how fans from that part of the country root for football. This has led, in turn, to fans in other parts of the country - in defense of their own teams and conferences, which have become objects of scorn as the sports media has bought into the SEC hype - adopting a similar posture.

I don't like it. I mean, Michigan fans should NOT be rooting for Ohio State to win the Rose Bowl, and vice versa. It's just unnatural. But it's the result of the NASCARifation of the sport.

However, the mentality remains most prevalent among fans of the SEC. Tonight, we will see Auburn fans rooting for hated archrival Alabama to win a "National Championship". WTF? And LSU fans who rightly detest Nick Saban will also be pulling for him to win another crystal trophy, only this time for the Crimson Tide instead of the Bayou Tigers. And those same fans, I will almost be willing to guarantee, were rooting for the Big 10 to go 0-7 or 1-6 or 2-5 in their bowl games so they could have another year of trashing the conference as "inferior".

I would not be surprised in years to come to see cars in the Southeast sporting - right next to stickers of the SEC university of their choice - stickers like this, only with "Big Eleven" (their derisive term for the Big 10) instead of the Chevy logo as the urinary recepticle:

I suppose it is a mark of how I, myself, have been influenced by this NASCAR mentality that I will be rooting tonight for the Texas Longhorns - a team I have been bred since birth to despise - to win another "National Championship".

Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
Yet Another "Fast" Team Gets a Taste of "Slow" Big 10 Defense [UPDATED]

Dispelling Some Myths

Buckeyes Win Rose Bowl

Big 10 Defeats LSU

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At 1/07/2010 1:07 PM, Blogger Terry said...

I think ESPiN deserves its fair share of blame as well. They generate controversy in any way they can, and one of their favorites is pitting conferences' strengths against one another.

Between them and their BCS bed partner, they've resulted in doing something quite remarkable: causing a lifelong Texas Longhorn fan to be completely indifferent about tonight's game. I have some episodes of Dirty Jobs recorded on TiVo I still want to see, not to mention the kids love the new mini basketball goal they got for Christmas. I've also been going to bed earlier and feeling better as a result, with my new bedtime being before the game reaching halftime.

Besides, prior to the B[C]S these two teams would have settled the score in Dallas last Friday at the Cotton Bowl. Pasadena belongs to the Big Ten and PAC 10 champions and used to mean something. Friday's game, when all was said done, possessed the same status as the Bowl, payout excepted -- and that's all that matters anymore.

Let me know when a) ESPiN doesn't have a mononoply on all things sports and b) this B[C]S experiment is over.

Until then, I have better things to do.

At 1/07/2010 2:10 PM, Blogger Ray said...

Jay, rooted for t.u. a few years back when they were playing USC for the National Championship. I wished both teams could lose, because I hate USC as well. However, tonight I am getting back to my Aggie roots and cheering on the Tide.

TCU & Alabama: proof positive there is life after Dennis Franchione

- Ray (a.k.a. Big Tex)

At 1/07/2010 2:20 PM, Blogger Paul Zummo said...

Heh, more evidence for your theory.

The funny thing is I'm only a half-hearted college football fan, but since I am a Tide fan (don't even ask how a New York city kid grew up a Crimson Tide fan), I generally root against the other SEC teams, mainly because I find most SEC fans to be utterly obnoxious for the reasons you cite.

Anyway, ROLL TIDE!

At 1/07/2010 2:39 PM, Blogger Jay Anderson said...

"... (don't even ask how a New York city kid grew up a Crimson Tide fan) ..."

Yeah, if you were to ask how a boy from East Texas grew up a fan of Ohio State, I'd probably have to say because they were on TV every week and I appreciated their brand of smashmouth football.

That, and I had to cheer for someone else besides Baylor if I wanted to cheer for a consistent winner.

And I liked how Woody Hayes popped that Clemson player in the chops. I hate Clemson.


At 1/08/2010 11:21 AM, Blogger OrangeAndBlue said...

As a Gator who grew up a Miami fan (My dad graduated from Miami, but I went to Florida), I can tell you that conference unity is much more common in SEC territory than other places.

You would never see a 'Canes fan rooting for the Seminoles even though both are in the ACC. Bob Stoops went to Alabama to help Saban beat the 'Horns even though both are in the Big 12. But in the SEC even a Florida fan will root for Georgia during bowl season.

I was rooting for Alabama to beat Texas, and I've taken part in many of the "SEC, SEC, SEC!" chants at games. It's hard to understand unless you live in the south and are part of the SEC.

More evidence of the brotherhood that is the SEC:

At 1/08/2010 11:56 AM, Blogger Jay Anderson said...

With the exception of the last 4 years, I've lived in the South all my life, and I still don't understand it.

Granted, I've never been a fan of an SEC school (my almae matres are in the former SWC, now Big 12, and the ACC). As you point out, several of the schools in the ACC are in states that also have SEC schools, but the "my conference is best" mentality doesn't hold there (even back when the ACC had a legitimate claim to such).

So, what is it about the SEC, in particular, that causes this mentality to obtain, when it does not in the overlapping ACC? Maybe I'm wrong to describe it as the "NASCAR" mentality, when fans of ACC schools also come from predominantly NASCAR crazy locales.

Nevertheless, NASCAR fans are what the SEC homerism most reminds me of.

At 1/08/2010 12:11 PM, Blogger Jay Anderson said...

And let's look at college basketball, where the ACC definitely has a legit claim to being the "best" conference. But despite that claim to being the best, you never hear chants of "ACC". And you'd pretty much never see a Duke fan rooting for North Carolina to win the National Championship, or vice versa.


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