Thursday, January 11, 2007

Revelling in rivalries

So last night, I had one of those "this is why I am in this business" nights.

A little background ... Vanderbilt's signature sport is men's basketball. We play in a strange gym called Memorial Gym whose distinctive characteristic is the fact that the benches are under the hoops. I digress ... we have had a number of last minute victories that have earned Memorial Gym to elicit "Memorial Magic". However, our team this year has not been very good. Losses to Furman and App State can do that to you.

Enter Tennessee. Enter cross-town rivalry. Enter a head coach in Bruce Pearl, whom I greatly respect from a purely PR perspective, but who is greatly hated by our fan base. Tennessee is ranked. I made the prediction we would lose by 20+.

Tat was before I factored in the Memorial Magic moments. See below.

As we sat around the office today, talking about the game, the older folks started reflecting on what Vandy used to be ... the hottest thing in Nashville. That was before pro sports came in and sucked the life out of our program.

However, short of the Music City Miracle in a season where the Titans went to the Super Bowl, I would argue there was more emotion and enthusiasm in that gym last night than any pro team could care to generate. (at least in the south. I have the theory that north of the mason dixon line the lens of sports fandom flips thus making pro sports have the same attributes as college sports in the south)

My point is that there is still something very pure about good college sporting entertainment. Most people want it. Most people enjoy it. Most people talk about it. But, in our relatively young pro sports town, until we are winning all the media wants to cover is pro sports.

They are still the cool, new kid in school ... maybe like Sunshine on Remember the Titans. But, I still feel I can penetrate the culture, and remind this community what sort of entertainment value there is in collegiate athletics.

Until the roller coaster begins the next flip, "We're number 1".

Take care.

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