Posted: 8:00 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013
While I tell people I'm from Tennessee, I wasn't born there, nor was my brother or the first of my three sisters. Before that, we lived northwest of Pittsburgh, near the Ohio state line. One day (I don't actually remember this story, but from my Dad's many tellings, I'm guessing it was January 1, 1993, which would've made me five years old), I came upon my Dad watching bowl games and confidently announced that he was watching my favorite team. He asked how it could be my favorite team when I didn't even know who was playing. I retorted that they were my favorite team because they were orange, and orange was my favorite color.
The following January, we moved to Tennessee, and my opinion has not changed. Tennessee is my favorite team, and orange is my favorite color. I've heard Tennessee fans admit that our shade of orange is not the most attractive and then claim to love it anyway. I could not disagree more. It is the most attractive, and I love it for that. Now it may be loud, and it may not go well with everything or in every situation, but when we're breaking down colors into their constituent quantities of awesome, Tennessee orange has the most.
When I was in sixth grade, we were learning about graphs, and one of our assignments was to poll the class on something and then make graphs out of the data. My group asked the class their favorite color. Our teacher told us we weren't allowed to include orange in the poll because it would get all the votes and there would be nothing to graph.
In 1999, at the end of my sixth grade and beginning of my seventh grade year, I wore orange every day. Literally every day. Three hundred and sixty-five days in a row, I was wearing orange. I broke the streak sometime during the year 2000--I don't remember exactly when--but it lasted at least an entire calendar year before that.
Unless you've been under a rock recently, you know that Tennessee has released gray jerseys for one game this year. And I actually like them. They look good. But there is one downside to wearing primarily gray: when you are wearing primarily gray, you aren't wearing primarily orange.
Even in other sports, I tend to gravitate towards orange teams. Hockey is an exception, where I've found enough reason to dislike Philadelphia that I've thrown my support behind the Carolina Hurricanes, but I was quite pleased to see that my local soccer team--the Carolina Railhawks--wear orange jerseys. The shade matches perfectly, and it feels like home. At a rainy game against the New York Cosmos 10 days ago, I counted six people wearing Vols gear to support the Railhawks.
When I'm watching the World Cup (or the Euro), I find it hard not to cheer for the Dutch, despite the fact that they employ one of my least favorite players in the world (Nigel De Jong--if you watch soccer, you probably hate him too). With colors like that, they must be worthy of support. And when I started watching the NFL, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were one of my favorite teams. Why? You have one guess.
While running through the T is certainly great, and there's obviously the spectacle of live football, seeing all the orange is one of my favorite parts of going to Neyland. I love that Tennessee has a such strong brand that you can recognize the jerseys even without seeing a logo, and I love even more that that brand is orange. Because orange is awesome. In case you weren't clear on that part.