Warning: Meandering ahead.
As exclamations go, there’s not much that can top Alabama’s traditional incantation in terms of versatility:
Last week, this story about a kid getting thrown out of 7-on-7 camp for (to hear him tell it) doing the Gator Chomp emerged. There turned out to be a little more to it than that, of course, but it got us thinking about co-opting rival teams’ trappings for personal amusement. We were maybe still thinking about it days later, when with no real motivation whatsoever we bellowed “ROLL TIIIIIDE” (or “TAHD” as it probably came out) at a group of tourists on horseback exiting a trail in Ojai Valley. Have you ever tried cheering for the Crimson Tide at moments that involve no football or football fans? It is great fun, and luckily for the majority of Americans, you don’t even have to be an Alabama fan to try it. Double coupon day at the grocery store? Passing grades on every midterm? High-speed near-miss on the interstate? The applications are truly endless.
I feel if more non-CFB fans were introduced to the joy of yelling ROLL TAHD at every inappropriate opportune moment it would heal the world.
— Holly Anderson (@SIHolly) June 21, 2012
We threw this idea out on Twitter and got a wide range of responses, from readers who knew exactly what we were talking about to Alabama fans cheerfully accepting our acquiescence to the Tide’s obvious superiority to Alabama fans sure they were the butt of some inside joke. These last two interpretations are both incorrect, and we didn’t have the time or space on Twitter to say exactly what we meant — that ”Roll Tide” has somehow, in our heads and in our social circles, transcended the Alabama program to become the property of all, a kind of college football shibboleth. And then Jay Busbee said it for us:
@nastinchka Also good for weddings, baptisms, funerals, greetings/farewells. It’s the continental U.S.’s “aloha.”
— Jay Busbee (@jaybusbee) June 21, 2012
That is really close to exactly what we were trying to get at. Or, rather, it’s Alabama’s aloha, and for the rest of us, our cheerfully sheepish shorthand for our unceasing love for this uncontrollable hayride of a sport. (The hay is made of solid gold. We never said it was a comfortable ride.)
Are there other co-opted traditions out there? There have to be. If we spent all our time in another part of the country, “O-H!” might do for a catch-all expression just as well. If you’ve got any to share, do tell. (Just don’t tell us Mark Richt has lost control of this comment thread. That is already patently obvious.)