More Than One Lane

September 2nd, 2010

The college football season starts this week. In the South, that's high church. It's all about the game – the faithful filling the outdoor pews, passing the plates, sharing the cup, and going Old Testament on the opposition. And if your team doesn't have a prayer, you go anyway and look for the miracle.

In Memphis, it's apparently all about partying where you park. And we all gave for the cause.

As published in The Daily News, September 3, 2010, and in The Memphis News, September 4-5, 2010.


Danny Tags Danny Training School


I grew up down the street from then Memphis State and went to then Training School on campus. When I wasn’t mystifying student teachers, I was running an impressive racket for a fourth grader, and my Godfather, Memphis State Dean R.M. Robison, was in on it. He was the Dean of … well, pretty much everything. I would point at the administration building and tell kids he ran the whole place. “Naw,” they’d say. “Wanna bet a nickel?” I’d say. I would then march them across the street, up all those steps, and into the Dean’s office … roughly the size of the Field House. We would visit, I would collect my nickels – and I would pay him a penny for every one. “For the scholarship fund,” he said.

Wherever we went to school, college or no college, we all owe the University of Memphis
something. For the opportunities they’ve given to thousands upon thousands. For the pride they’ve given us in national recognition through both academics and sports. For the contributions of their graduates and faculty to the larger life of this community. For what having a major university in your town means to your ability to recruit business and to retain and train homegrown talent.

That being said, every one of us in Memphis and Shelby County is paying them something. They play their games in public facilities, bought and maintained by you and me. Tens of millions of our taxes are building Tiger Lane, leading to a stadium that will only approach capacity for the Southern Heritage Classic, whenever Memphis plays an SEC school, and occasionally the Liberty Bowl. All of that is on our property, being publicly developed for private interests, instead of privately developed for public interests – as originally intended.

The University of Memphis is a cultural anchor in the city with 20,000 students.

But in Memphis and Shelby County alone, there are 41,000 students of somewhere else seeking a higher education. Go no further west than West Memphis and no further south than Senatobia, and you can add almost 13,000. In all, there are almost 75,000 degree seekers cracking books around here.

In a state that famously undervalues higher education and overvalues packing heat in Huey’s, those are numbers to be proud of and build a cheerleading squad around.

Tiger fan comments in the press, in cyberspace and on squawk radio have more whine in them than Buster’s – all the same vintage – not enough coverage, no respect, yadda, yadda, yadda. Put a cork in it.

We are a three-state crossroads and melting pot. The Ole Miss alumni chapter vies for the largest in the country. Tennessee’s chapter is the second largest. You’ll find big pockets of fans for everything from the SEC to the Ivy League, from Notre Dame to Texas – not to mention all those other Memphis schools.

So, Tigers, while it’s a lot about you, it’s not all about you.

I’m a Memphian, and I’m a Tigerbuclynxvolsaluqirebelrazorbackmagician.


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