This is the first of a week-long series of posts sponsored by EA Sports NCAA Football 2011. The topic is "how I became a Razorback fan."
Growing up as a sports-loving kid in Arkansas, I'm not sure if I ever had much chance of ever being anything but a Razorback fan. As we all know, the Hogs are basically the only game in town and provide a common thread that unites young and old, black and white, city and country, Democrat and Republican, etc in our small state. It's a cool thing.
In my case, I suppose I would have had some minor excuse had my allegiances drifted elsewhere, as both my parents are from out of state (my dad's family from North Carolina by way of Michigan, my mom's from - gasp! - Texas), but I can't really remember a time in my life when I didn't pull for the Hogs. There's the old story about the first Razorback game I ever saw in person - versus Texas Tech in War Memorial Stadium - when I quickly grew bored and spent the bulk of the time reading a Hardy Boys book, but even then I was hooked.
From that point on I've been a Hog fan, with all the requisite highs and lows that it entails. I was in War Memorial for the crushing 16-14 loss to Texas in 1987 and for the 14-13 Arkansas win over the Longhorns in their last SWC meeting in 1991 (we rushed the field after that one). I listened to the 1982 "pass interference, my ass" game against SMU on the radio but am still positive that it was a terrible call. Each big win was shared with practically everyone in the state, and every crushing loss somehow made me love the Razorbacks even more.
When I went to college (at a small school in Memphis that didn't have much of an athletic program to threaten my Hog fandom) I was suddenly exposed to people who not only rooted for other schools but actually had very specific anti-Arkansas hatred, and my loyalty to my home team grew even stronger. I also met my ArkansasExpats.com co-editor Stephen, and we developed something of a reputation as two of the more enthusiastic (or more annoying, depending on your perspective) Razorback fans on campus.
From there, we both went our separate ways - Stephen to Atlanta, me to San Francisco - but we still exchanged frequent emails about the various ups and downs of the Razorbacks. Finally, in the wake of the Houston Nutt/Dana Altman insanity of early 2007 Stephen proposed turning our online correspondence into a blog. Over the last three years of working on ArkansasExpats.com (and RazorbackExpats.com before that), it's been hugely enjoyable to follow my favorite team so closely and (virtually) meet so many fellow fans in the process.
So, more than 30 years after it all started the Hogs are still a huge part of my life (and I'm proud to be probably the only person in Berkeley wearing an Arkansas Razorbacks t-shirt on any given day). What about you? How did you become a Razorback fan? Let us know how it all happened in the comments section.