Alabama is the perfect villain for so many reasons, and I’m not even referring to the Brandon Miller situation. Fans of college athletics would’ve inevitably found a reason to hate this Crimson Tide squad, and if they couldn’t find one, they’d have created one. People are so sick of seeing the football team win that they’re triggered by the mere success of other sports under the same umbrella.
Ohio State gives off a similar vibe. These schools are institutions that have been so prosperous the general public is conditioned to be skeptical of their practices. We view them like Big Pharma or Big Tech or any other industry that is perceived negatively if you put Big in front of it.
And ’Bama is the Amazon of Big Academia. We want to believe that the university’s success is directly tied to all that’s wrong with college athletics. “They bought every title from Nick Saban to Bear Bryant, so why is the 2022-23 basketball team an outlier?” “The only reason Miller is on the team is that he’s on the payroll.” (Never mind Miller’s dad played football for Gene Stallings and met his mother when in Tuscaloosa.)
The Tide are tearing through the tourney. They’re the only 1 seed that hasn’t been tested. Miller didn’t score in the first round yet the team put up 96 points and won by 21. The outside perception is that Alabama is wielding the Force with the power of the Darkside, and its influence has expanded to hoops.
There’s only one school that SEC fanatics occasionally won’t root for during out-of-conference play, and it’s Alabama. The rest of the time, the rest of the country is venomous with their disdain for all things houndstooth. There’s a mob mentality involved that I’m not nuanced enough to communicate accurately without setting off someone’s cancel alarm, so we’re going to skip that section.
What I’m trying to get at is it’s just a college, man. It’s OK to hate Tuscaloosa, but there’s no need to be the guy who goes too far in his rage and is out there poisoning trees. Don’t let it consume you.
’Bama is a great villain, one of the best in the history of sports; right up there with the Russians. However, I’ve found that you can cripple yourself with anger simply by thinking about how unfair life is. You don’t have to let it go, you just have to know how much to let it affect you.
I get through each day with largely the same approach. I’m secure enough to know who sucks, educate myself enough not to waver, and numb enough to the discourse not to be bothered. The key is finding the perfect mix of alcohol and THC to effectively turn off your brain for a few hours a night.
I can separate my feelings about Alabama from my uncertainty surrounding what happened with Miller. It sounds and looks terrible, but I was never going to celebrate the Tide winning this tournament, no matter what happened off the court.
You should never feel good about the death of a young woman, but using it as fuel for your dislike of a school is doing exactly that. If you want to hate the situation because of what it says about the value of human life in America, or the impact of guns on public safety, or another worthwhile concern, that’s fine.
A life is bigger than the trivialities of fandom, and it’s important to remember that.