Becoming an Alabama Fan


CW/ David Gray

Nick Robbins, Contributing Writer

They always talk about Saturdays down South.  

Those days are special for any of the 14 SEC schools on any given Saturday in the fall. You never truly understand it until you step on campus and stand under the lights at Bryant-Denny Stadium with over 100,000 people all rooting for the same team. 

Those 100,000-plus are all, for the most part, rooting for Alabama, but the story of how each individual person in that crowd became a Crimson Tide fan is different. Some are born into it while some, like me, develop into it, and some never thought they would find their way here. 

Growing up in the suburbs of New York City, college football is an afterthought. In a city that boasts nine professional sports teams in the top four leagues, it’s easy to see why. New York City’s closest Power Five football team is 50 miles away in Piscataway. Rutgers is hardly a brand many New Yorkers relate to. Syracuse is branded as “New York’s team,” but they sit around 200 miles away and have been subpar at best for the last 15 years. 

It’s hard to find a rooting interest for college football in the shadow of the Big Apple, yet I found that in Alabama. There wasn’t much to tie me to the Crimson Tide as a kid. Neither of my parents went to Alabama nor did their schools have strong football programs. I was always drawn to the positive attitude and winning mentality of Alabama football head coach Nick Saban. It was always a joy to watch Alabama in the SEC game of the week on CBS. I would beg my parents to let me stay up and watch the important games. 

I remember convincing my parents to watch Alabama win their first title under Nick Saban in 2009. I remember watching the “Game of the Century” in 2011, staying up well past midnight to watch the Tigers rip my heart out. If you had told me that eight years later, I’d be in Bryant-Denny watching the second iteration of the “Game of the Century,” I would have never believed you. 

Yet that’s how the chips fell for me and eight years later, I found myself in the stands for my first game as a freshman. Stepping on campus changed how I supported Alabama. Gone were the days of only catching the “important” games. Now, I can’t miss another minute. There is some serious pride in standing in the stands of Bryant-Denny until that clock hits zero, no matter the score. 

As I met classmates who spent their whole lives bleeding crimson and white, it made it easier to love the Crimson Tide. Hearing stories of generations of Alabama fans sitting down to watch their team play is truly phenomenal. I hope one day my kids feel the same way I do about Alabama. Once I could only name those stars, now I know the roster top to bottom.  

It can certainly be intimidating at first trying to keep up with those die-hard fans, but with a little effort every student on campus can become a die-hard, no matter what. While I may not have had a rooting interest in college football when I was a kid, a lot of students did. 

Sophomore Matthew Fogarty grew up in a Georgia household. Both of his parents went to the University of Georgia and for the first 18 years of his life, he was a Bulldog fan. 

“We’d go down to Athens almost every year for games and I always wanted to go to Georgia,” Fogarty said.  

The path to Athens didn’t work out for him, and when looking for a school, Alabama drew to him. From the minute he stepped on campus, it was all Alabama for him. It became easy for him to fall in love with Alabama from that point on. 

His parents didn’t begin supporting Alabama after he began school.  

“They’re still Georgia fans,” Fogarty said. “It runs deep in the south. People don’t usually switch up.” 

Graduate student and women’s soccer player McKinley Crone had a similar story. She grew up a Texas Longhorns fan before abandoning her family ties and crossing the rivalry line to Oklahoma to play soccer. Being an athlete at a program makes it rather easy to root for that program and from that point on she said “Boomer Sooner.” 

“I went to the 2018 Orange Bowl between Oklahoma and Alabama, and I was actively rooting against Alabama and for Oklahoma,” Crone said. 

Her loyalties changed once she transferred to Alabama in 2020. From the beginning, she felt it was a perfect fit. Crone cited the winning tradition of the athletic department, and the departments focus on greatness for every student athlete, making Alabama easy to root for. It was easy for her to want to be a part of, and root for, a winning culture. 

While football may dominate an Alabama student’s sports attention span, it is hardly the only sport students may have to abandon loyalties for. Growing up as a fan of old school Big East basketball, it was hard to see myself rooting for Alabama basketball. While Alabama may have historically never been a basketball powerhouse, times have changed and under strong leadership Alabama is primed to dominate in the SEC for years to come.  

That is something I am excited to be a part of. It wasn’t easy becoming an Alabama fan. You fight the battles of people calling you a bandwagon or a t-shirt fan. Regardless of where you come from and what teams you previously supported, there is room for every student at Alabama to love the Crimson Tide. The University of Alabama is a family, and that family has one thing in common no matter what Alabama athletics.  

We all have different paths to fandom, but we are all Alabama fans.