Rivalry strains even the closest friendships

In my search for higher education, there were only two options. I could follow in my father’s footsteps to the Capstone or follow my high school friends onto The Plains. I grew up with a crimson shaker in my hand and a matching cheerleading uniform, so it wasn’t much of a decision.

As the summer of senior year drew to an end, we began to prepare to part ways for our new homes filled with new friends and new football teams to pledge our allegiances. We were determined to keep close even in the face of adversity, the rivalry. The two and a half hours between Auburn and Tuscaloosa would not tear us apart, but little did we know the football teams just may.

I admit, I am not the most knowledgeable Alabama football fan, but I am a fan nonetheless. So, when we all gathered together to watch the Alabama/Auburn game for the first time as students in 2010, we were quickly forced into the mutual grievances that opposing friends often find themselves. Our undeniable lead at the beginning of the game incited overt negative exchanges among opposing friends, which we later wished to recant in the second half.

As the game took a turn for the worse and our lead lessened, the vying banter turned tasteless and high school friends began to turn away from their roots and towards their current persuasions.

We all know what became of that fateful day in November 2010, Cam Newton carried his “Camily” to a victory, forcing the crimson and white adorned friends to retreat from the original Iron Bowl party to sulk in solitude.

The next November, both Auburn and Alabama friends learned from their past mistakes of provoking opposing teammates, both knowing the repercussions of feuding football friends. The Alabama crew traveled to Auburn with high hopes, already positive of the outcome. We were back with a vengeance and won with vengeance. Only this time, the friends of the UA variety chose not to chide their flawed offense or gloat in our victory and zipped our lips of all game-related topics and silently celebrated via winks and fist pumps between post-game dinner conversations.

I’d say we learned our lesson: no matter the length of friendship or integrity of proverbial schools, once cities divide us and sides are chosen, rivalry’s hostility can nick even the strongest of bonds.

This time around, not many from the Auburn crew will make their way to Tuscaloosa, fearing the wrath of the current Alabama stature and knowing the cruel pains of defeat already faced this season. I, for one, am overjoyed to (dare I say it) slaughter the Plainsmen and send them back crying. So maybe it’s a good thing they aren’t coming this year. I won’t have to hide my excitement after our sweet, sweet victory and they won’t read this column. I wouldn’t want to cause any discord among us, I’ll leave that to our football teams.

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