"Well guys," Dad proclaimed. "we're going to Arkansas."
Arkansas. ... Arkansas? ... Where exactly was Arkansas. Do they really not wear shoes in Arkansas? This was most definitely, we thought, not going to be glamorous, but my Dad needed a job, so ... Arkansas it was.
I remember my sister showing me the flat lands and the rolling hills of Arkansas on my finger-worn topographic map of the United States, and I remembered how many questions I had. I knew that a move to Arkansas meant leaving a hot, arid climate for a southern steaminess that I had just experienced on a short trip to Atlanta. I remember getting offf the plane in Atlanta and being assaulted by the steamy, heavy air, and this image was fresh as newly poared asphalt made even more shiny and spongy by the scorching desert sun as I contemplated the move. All I knew about Arkansas was that President Bill Clinton was from there, and that they had the University of Arkansas with their crazy sports teams that came with whooping fans; I knew that those fans had to do with the loss Arizona State suffered at the hands of ... them. I could handle Bill Clinton (if I were old enough, I would have voted for him), but I didn't know if I could stomach their razorbacks.
As we got ready to go, I got prepared. History class fortuitously allowed me the opportunity to write a report on a state of our choice. I naturally chose Arkansas, and by the time I was finished, I learned more about the state that I would move to than most Arkansas natives. I learned that we would move to the natural state and that there was a state park where you could go and dig for diamonds. I learned the Governor's name, the name of all of the national Representatives and senators. I learned that in Arkansas, and more importantly in the South, not the south with a little s but one with a big growling capital S, contained a land of Baptist Churches, Friday night high school football, and Nasscar.
Once the ordeal of moving was over, and we got settled into a routine of school for us, and work for Mom and Dad, we were able to really look around. No longer was Arkansas a research topic. I was there in the South, and whether or not I liked it or not, THIS was Razorback Country, and I had seemingly no choice but to like it. I was successfully able to keep my flat Southwestern accent, resisting the old-fashioned sounding slow drawl--the "y'alls" and the "'preciate yas"--but in Arkansas, college sports pervaded like nothing else, and it was useless for me to resist the Razorback's allure.
Arkansas has no other major sports teams but the Razorbacks, so sports fans follow football and basketball religiously. It is said that in Arkansas, you live, you breathe, you eat, and you bleed red. It's said that you are consumed by the mean looking hog. You become brainwashed to the fact that the razorback mascot really doesn't look quite that ugly but actually looks somewhat sexy, and you start to think that a fighting, mean, undulating, razorback is really ... really ...
cool!The rumors are all correct.
By the time I was three months into my eighth grade education, my cultural education in Arkansas was complete. I had no choice but to become one with my inner Razorback. I had no choice but to be a Razorback, through and through, and I liked it.
I went to my first Razorback game when I was a freshman at the University of Arkansas. I learned the art of the hog call to the tune of 50000 other fans roaring in eerie yet exilarating unison, "wooooooooooo pig soooooooooooooeeeeeeeee". When I became a student of the University of Arkansas, I became a Razorback, and I'll stay a Razorback for life, no matter how embarrassed my non-Razorback friends get when I raise my right hand, wiggle my fingers, and rip off the ultimate Razorback salute, the Hog Call.
Usually, the state of Arkansas is united with its Razorbacks. Arkansas is unique because it is so united. I've had friends tell me of the times they have gone to other countries, and been asked either to demonstrate to them the very unique Hog Call or explain what a razorback actually is. Most times, whether or not the football team is winning or losing, we Arkansans support them fully. It's not abnormal to see fans tailgating eight hours before a game, and partying six hours after. Fans sometimes even become cannibals and
This year has been filled with turmoil synonymous of a sope opera or a trashy truckstop paperback, with the two most recruited players in the nation in 2005 leaving for seemingly petty personal reasons, and scandalous emails being read on the local evening news's top story. This summer, it got so bad that one sports commentator started his sportscast every day with a segment called "As The Hog Turns", and the latest gossip was painfully recounted .
Lately, much speculation has been thrown about in the Arkansas media as to the fate of Razorback coach, Houston Nutt. Some fans wanted him to go, some wanted him to stay. Some even went as far as protesting by towing Anti-Nutt banners on their planes, executing a terrorist-like flyby of a sold-out gameday Rennold's Razorback stadium. It wouldn't surprise me if the disunity of the state's sports fans wouldn't have spilled over from the battlefield gridiron of the 24/7 sports radio station to a Gen-u-ine, I kid you not, real battlefield of an Arkansas Civil War.
On Tuesday, Coach Nutt resigned, and took a job at the University of Mississippi), a rival of University of Arkansas.
"I'd just encourage everybody -- everybody," Nutt said. "Let's all come together. Let's be Razorbacks. Once you're a Razorback, you're always a Razorback -- for life."just</i> the Natural State. It wasn't a 20 page report, it wasn't a list of city and county names. It was real, and the Razorbacks seemed to make Arkansas more real for me as a young guy.
I am proud to have gone to the University of Arkansas. I'm proud to be a Razorback fan, no matter the helmsman, no matter the storm. I'm sad that fans, media, and administrators may have forced Coach Houston Nutt to resign, and I hope that the Razorbacks can find a coach that can lead a proud team to success. Sure, I respect the fact that other teams have fervent fans and I wish Nutt success at Ole Miss, but I will always be a Razorback-- "... for life."
Proud fans of the Razorback Nation, UNITE!
Woooooooooo pig sooee
Woooooooooo pig sooee
Woooooooooo pig sooee ... Arkansas Razorbacks!
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