This post is sponsored by EA Sports NCAA Football 2011.
In trying to figure how to approach the topic of "How I Became an Alabama Fan" a few thoughts hit me. First, in my experience it's certainly true that children in this state "choose" their teams early on in life based on not much more than familial rooting interests and I'm no different. Throughout grade school we always had the special day before the Iron Bowl where all the kids were supposed to wear their team colors (pity the poor misfit who's parents forced him to wear a Georgia/Tennessee/LSU/etc. shirt on that day) to school, and I always wore Alabama clothes because...well, that's what was in the house. We were Alabama fans and to be anything different wasn't even considered, and it was that way for many of my friends throughout the years, whether they cared one bit about football or not. I've had plenty of friends throughout the years that would identify themselves with either Alabama or Auburn despite having never even watched a game and thinking that football is a stupid waste of the University's resources, that's just how deeply embedded into the psyches of the state's population this rivalry is. But just saying "I'm an Alabama fan because my parents are Alabama fans" is a wholly unsatisfying answer. Yes, most of us could say Alabama was chosen for us by our families, but at what point can we say that we earnestly chose the Crimson Tide for ourselves?
I've told this story before but for those of you who missed it or are new around here, I "became" an Alabama fan in 1989 when this happened:
That was the first time I watched an Alabama game by myself and quite frankly probably the first time I had paid any real attention to a football game. Usually I would watch only a couple of games a year with my parents, and even then I was reading a comic book or doing something else during it. But for some reason on that day I sat in our living room and followed that game and even now I can't properly describe the sinking feeling I felt when Penn State drove into field goal range, just like even now I can't properly describe the elation that came over me when Rayam knocked that ball out of the air. That single play had more to do with me "becoming" an Alabama fan than any other possible reason I could name. For the first time my happiness was a direct result of Alabama winning, and the manner in which we prevailed filled me with the unshakable belief that no matter what the Tide would find a way. From then on I was an Alabama fan not because I liked the team or respected the tradition or because my parents were Alabama fans, but because I believed in the Crimson Tide.
So now it's y'all's turn: when did you become an Alabama fan?