December 1st, 2013

10-S, 10-D

Football schadenfreude

Many of you are aware I used to work for a Books-A-Million, a chain of bookstores based in Birmingham, Alabama. One of the peculiarities of working for a company headquartered in Alabama was that the buyers were absolutely convinced that every one of their customers nationwide were just as interested in the University of Alabama football team as their customers in Alabama were. In fairness to that point of view, I will concede that the Crimson Tide has a long and storied history and is rightfully considered one of the premier college football programs of all time. Nevertheless, I believed at the time and still believe now that my store in northern Virginia would have been better served by a sports section that had, say, 75% fewer titles having to do with Alabama football.

My resentment over having to carry so many unwanted titles translated into a resentment toward the team itself. Add to that my distaste for Alabama's -- the state and the university -- disgraceful history of civil rights abuses, and my feeling that Alabama coach Nick Saban is dishonest and dishonorable, and you can begin to understand my pleasure at seeing this:

If you can't or prefer not to watch videos online, that's Auburn's Chris Davis returning a missed field goal 109 yards for a touchdown with no time left on the clock, giving Auburn the victory over Alabama in yesterday's Iron Bowl. It's a sweet play regardless; that it was against Alabama made it all the sweeter. It brings to mind a quote from an old column by Michael Kinsley: "The Germans (who else?) have a word for this feeling: schadenfreude -- meaning, roughly, joy in other people's suffering. It's not a very attractive emotion, and in due course perhaps I'll seek professional help. But first I'm going to enjoy it for a while."