Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Roll Tide...Eastertide

Almost as good as "Go Irish"
Only 53% of students at the University of Alabama are from "the Yellowhammer state." 42% are from elsewhere in the US. With their success on the football field, I understand why students who are sports fans are drawn to a big time college experience like "Bama." And that is why a number of my students will be studying in Tuscaloosa this fall (talk about culture shock). 

This is not typical. Cal Berkeley, another Jesuit University like BC, Gonzaga and Fordham seem to be a norm. I celebrate when I hear of a senior who is going to Notre Dame. This spring when three young men told me where they are going to college, there's only one thing I could say in response: "Roll Tide." And the reaction is always the same: a big smile.

Alabama's rally cry garners a lot of attention. What does it mean? Why is it so fun to say?

UA's athletics website explains both the history and meaning of its mascot and their slogan. 

In early newspaper accounts of Alabama football, the team was simply listed as the "varsity" or the "Crimson White" after the school colors.  
The first nickname to become popular and used by headline writers was the "Thin Red Line." The nickname was used until 1906.  
The name "Crimson Tide" is supposed to have first been used by Hugh Roberts, former sports editor of the Birmingham Age-Herald. He used "Crimson Tide" in describing an Alabama-Auburn game played in Birmingham in 1907, the last football contest between the two schools until 1948 when the series was resumed. The game was played in a sea of mud and Auburn was a heavy favorite to win. 
But, evidently, the "Thin Red Line" played a great game in the red mud and held Auburn to a 6-6 tie, thus gaining the name "Crimson Tide." Zipp Newman, former sports editor of the Birmingham News, probably popularized the name more than any other writer. 
According to Connor Adam Sheets,  "'Roll Tide' was said to illustrate the Alabama varsity running on the field. It was said the team looked like the tide was rolling in thus gaining the chant 'Roll Tide.'"

It's not surprising to me that their catchphrase is as ubiquitous as it is. My student informed me that "every letter I get from the University is signed with the closure Roll Tide." ESPN capitalized on this truth with one of my favorite commercials. I think the best humor is born from observation—observing humanity, our quirks and quibbles, our experiences and delights. Certainly, Roll Tide (and the love for one's school) is no exception.

So this Easter Monday, I couldn't help but notice when a colleague signed a letter "Enjoy Eastertide." This was a new phrase to me. Eastertide? I like it!

Eastertide is the Easter Season—the 50 days of celebration of the Lord's resurrection. It concludes with Pentecost. And I think it's important to note that this liturgical season of 50 days trumps the sacrifice and discipline of the 40 days of Lent. A victory in Jesus Christ.

The notion of "tide" has impelled me to think of the enthusiasm by which I should say "Happy Easter." Living in a secular city like San Francisco, I have noticed I held back from saying "Happy Easter." I even said "Happy Easter...or er..Happy Spring." 

But for those with whom I share a common faith tradition, it's time to say it loud and clear. "He is Risen! Alleluia!" We ought to let our lives and our words reveal that death hath no victory. The joy of the season is in the Risen Lord." Eastertide. 

Photo Credits
Roll Tide


No comments:

Post a Comment