In Mississippi SEC affiliations are handed out as birthrights. Many a newborn Mississippian has made a trip home from the hospital already clad in colors passed down from generation to generation; and while those colors might include a random crimson/white or orange/blue combo, most of us know that the true choice is red and blue or maroon and white. ‘To be or not to be”…. a Rebel or a Bulldog… “that is the question.”
Although born in the heart of MS, I seem to have been an anomaly when it came to this rite of passage. My dad’s being more interested in watching boxing and documentaries than watching college football left me exempt. Or did it? Although I had no familial influence in this area, the mascot of the elementary and junior high schools I attended was a bulldog, and the colors were maroon and white. Sound familiar? Yep, my earliest attachment was to the same colors and mascot as dear ole Mississippi State University. Because our school only went through ninth grade; however, as an impressionable teenager, I transferred to a school where the colors were red and blue. Yep, just like Ole Miss. Although we didn’t share the same mascot, the message was obviously received subliminally by my classmates who, upon graduation, marched like lemmings twenty miles up the road to Ole Miss. I, however, having been trained the right way as a child, broke free from the oppressive red and blue chokehold and made the two and a half hour trek to become an MSU Bulldog.
Eventually, I married into a misguided Ole Miss family. I found it my Christian duty to do my best and love them as they were. Just as Jesus did, I have dined with the lost. I have donned red and blue and have even forced myself to tailgate in the Grove, but that is where I draw the line. The words Hotty Toddy will never escape these lips, and the words Ole Miss will never adorn my clothing. Because, in the end, the scripture rings as true as a cowbell… “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is older, he will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6. Can I get a “Hail State?” Amen.
By Mary Wiygul