Peace and love, brothers and sisters.
The 70s were a wonderful time. The days were long, and friends were all around. Acreage was plentiful on which we could run with our dogs, play sports, ride our bikes and ponies, or race our motorcycles. We wore love beads, hip-hugging bell-bottom pants, tie-dyed shirts, and square-toed platform shoes or Chuck Taylor All Stars. Evel Knievel was in his prime. Richard Petty was The Man. And we listened to great music under our black lights as we gazed at the glowing velvety posters on our bedroom walls.
My Sunday afternoons were the best when the Cowboys beat the Packers or the Celtics beat the Lakers. And as soon as the game ended on TV, I was out the door to find the other kids and strike up a neighborhood game. Football, basketball, baseball – we loved playing them all.
The neighborhood was mostly boys. I had one girlfriend who loved to play as much as I did. But the other eight regularly participating neighborhood kids were boys. No big deal. I liked playing with the boys. They made me better. They were tough, and we girls didn’t have to worry about hitting them too hard or throwing a ball to them too fast. They were cool.
Then one sad day my budding football career ended. We were in my girlfriend’s backyard warming up for the football game that would soon be starting. A pretty large group had gathered. Then her mom came out and called us over. “You girls are getting too old to be playing football with the boys. You come on in the house right now.”
What? What? What does that mean? Too old? Does not compute. Bummer.
So that’s how my football career came to a screeching halt. And I decided right then and there that if I wasn’t going to be allowed to play that stupid game, I wasn’t going to waste my time watching it on TV either.
I satisfied my passion for sports by studying and participating in several other sports, but the one I loved the most by far was basketball. And since I had sworn off caring about football, Carolina seemed to be the perfect school on which I would eventually bestow my fandom. Perennially excellent in basketball, perennially mediocre in football. I could live with that since I didn’t care about football any longer.
Regardless of how good or bad Carolina football is, has been, or will be, I always root for them no matter the opponent. Carolina is my school; I pull for the Tar Heels in anything over anybody. But I’ve never been as invested – emotionally or otherwise–in any sport as much as basketball. My love for basketball came first; my love for Carolina came later.
Through the years, Carolina football has toyed with excellence, but they’ve never been able to maintain it. That made it easier for me to refrain from developing a similar obsession with Carolina football as I have with Carolina basketball –that and the established fact that I simply like the sport of basketball better than football.
In walks Coach Larry Fedora.
Now I find myself fighting to remain the slightly-invested fan that I’ve been for years, but dang, Fedora and staff are making it difficult. They brought excitement and hope to the Carolina football program. They display tremendous energy and obviously understand how to promote and sell what Carolina has to offer.
Recruits are taking notice, as are opponents’ fan bases and staffs. Although this new staff has yet to coach a single game in Carolina Blue, everyone is well aware a new, formidable sheriff is in town. For some, that equates to growing excitement as they eagerly await the upcoming Carolina football season. For others, it strikes a little fear deep inside although they would never intentionally admit it to any Tar Heel.
The Heels recently completed Blue Dawn – eight intense 6a.m.workouts over a two-week period that gave the staff an opportunity to assess the players’ conditioning and attitudes. Take a minute to watch this video: FB: Coach Fedora talks about Blue Dawn – 3/1. (If a video by another name opens, please scroll further down the page and click on the video with this title. Sharing of videos from the official Tar Heel athletic site leaves a bit to be desired.) TarHeelBlue.com has a number of other quality football videos on it too. The first Blue Dawn video, FB: Blue Dawn 2012 – 2/20 – the one with the team working out on the snow-speckled field – was especially well done. (You may have to click on the SPORT tab and then choose FOOTBALL to locate this video if it doesn’t pop up automatically from the link provided.)
Time will write the ending to this story, but I believe the Carolina faithful are in for a ride they will enjoy with Coach Fedora at the helm. And now I reluctantly have another Tar Heel obsession to temporarily take my mind off worrying about whether the Heel hoopsters will accomplish the improbable and cut down the nets in sweet New Orleans this April.