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