Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Traditionless ‘Canes Keep Winning

Some things just go together. The Thursday before last, I headed home to Texas for Columbus Day weekend. That night, I went out with my parents for Shiner Bock beer and the best-sliced beef brisket sandwiches in the state. At 8:30 p.m. Central Standard Time, not one of the 20 televisions in the barbecue joint was tuned in to the American League Division Series game between the Twins and Athletics. Instead, Virginia Tech and Boston College fought it out on every screen as George Strait’s voice filled the room. Unless the Rangers are playing, baseball is not a very popular fall sport with guys sporting cowboy hats and dip cups.

I think that’s the way it should be, too. Sports in this country have grown to become more than mere games, but a deeper part of our culture as well. For example, most everyone who hails from a major metropolitan area can remember their parents taking them to a baseball game when they were little kids. The point wasn’t just to see two groups of 20 to 40-year-old men play a game, but also to stuff yourself with hot dogs and cotton candy, try to get autographs from the players during batting practice and beg your dad to buy you the home team’s ball cap.

This is why sports are important to many of us. When our favorite team takes the field, we don’t feel that they are simply trying to win a game. They (and the opposing team) act out a drama that we have known all our lives and have come to love. That’s why I still go to baseball games every year and stuff myself with overpriced hot dogs and Dr. Pepper whenever my favorite team is in town.

On a smaller scale, however, local sports teams are representative of local cultural institutions. That’s why Pittsburgh named their football team the Steelers, why tailgaters eat gumbo at New Orleans Saints games and why you can’t go to the Kentucky Derby without drinking at least one mint julep. Sports contests are highly visible public events that allow us to pit our culture against another’s, and human beings like to define who they are culturally in exactly those types of situations.

I have determined that this is why I have never liked the University of Miami football team. Don’t get me wrong; Larry Coker has put together one hell of a squad that deserves to be No. 1 in the nation right now. After they completely proved me wrong last season and thrashed Nebraska in the Fiesta Bowl, they have my respect as a skilled football team. The Hurricanes, however, are a bunch of out-of-staters playing in a town where most of the population could care less about football.

Just for fun, take a look at the Miami roster and compare it to that of the University of Texas. Except for one infamous quarterback from the state of New Jersey, you won’t find many players from outside the Lone Star State on the Longhorns roster. The Hurricanes, on the other hand, have three Canadians on the team, along with vagabonds from non-football states like New York. It’s no secret that Ken Dorsey is from the West Coast, and his favorite receiver last season, Jeremy Shockey, is the biggest Oklahoma tough guy since Merle Haggard. Now, if the city of Miami was located in Indiana, I would understand out-of-state recruiting. But Florida is a large state with one heck of a high school football reputation. Even though they have the University of Florida and Florida State to compete with, the Hurricanes have a large in-state talent pool from which to draw, especially since they have beaten both the Gators and the Seminoles this year. The Hurricanes are, therefore, not a team that represents the state of Florida. True, Coach Coker puts a great team on the field, but it is a team designed simply to make money for the University of Miami on a national scale.

The Hurricanes are certainly not a team that represents the city of Miami, either. Although I haven’t done a comprehensive poll of Miami residents to see how they feel about Hurricanes football, I would guess that many of them feel about the same way that those guys with the Stetsons and the Copenhagen in my hometown barbecue joint feel about women’s high school field hockey. State College, Penn., is a football town. Miami just isn’t.

Miami fails to do what other teams do: make sports more than just a game. They are a team with no cultural tradition, unless you count Michael Irvin’s fur coat collection, or possibly getting high and getting arrested. (Miami is the only school where they take the team photograph from the front and the side.) That’s why I’ll be singing “Rocky Top” when the `Canes head to Tennessee in November.

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