No More Iron Bowl?

The Tuscaloosa News thinks we ought to get rid of it. “It” being the name, and not the game, obviously:

The name was place-specific — that is, because Birmingham was once the hub of the Southern steel-/smaking industry, which was developed in and around the Magic City because of the abundant supplies of iron ore and coal, two of the key ingredients in making steel. Birmingham’s Red Mountain is practically solid iron.

But even though the last time Alabama and Auburn met in Birmingham was 1998 and the last time the tickets were evenly split was in 1987, people, particularly in the media, persist in calling the game the Iron Bowl. About 43 percent of the people who responded to The Tuscaloosa News online poll this week said they preferred to call the game the Iron Bowl, rather than the Alabama-Auburn game.

With all due respect, however, it’s high time to retire the old name, precisely because it was derived from a long-dead tradition.

I don’t know. My initial reaction is that “the Iron Bowl,” even if an anachronism, is much cooler than the generic “Alabama-Auburn (or Auburn-Alabama) Game.”

First, even though it isn’t in B’ham, calling it the Iron Bowl still fits. The word iron has always been used as a metaphor for toughness and superiority. Lawyers sometimes think they have an “iron clad” argument. There was the “iron curtain” in Eastern Europe, and, the metaphorically and metallurgically related “steel curtain” in Pittsburgh. And don’t forget the “Iron Shiek.” When you hear “Iron Bowl” you’ll imagine something very different than when you here, oh, for instance, “Egg Bowl.”

Second, the name is distinct. Every game is the Alabama-Somebody game, or the Auburn-Somebody game. Alabama-Auburn though is a game different in kind from Alabama-Tennessee, or Auburn-LSU. Hence, it needs a name that is different in kind: The Iron Bowl.  

Third, that times change does not necessarily mean the name ought to change with them. In fact, the more the times change, the more reason to keep the name the same. New players, new coaches, new conference members, new stadiums, new locations, new fans, new students; all of these things change the game every year. But the name remains. It reminds everyone involved that they are part of a long story.

So I say keep it as is.

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7 Comments on “No More Iron Bowl?”

  1. KC Says:

    I’d dump the name….reminds me of all those years we were forced to make that trek to a “neutral field”….and the fact that we had to drag them kicking and screaming to Auburn…although they eventually quit playing any games at LF as well….in my house it is simply the Auburn -Alabama game.

    WDE

  2. Jon Says:

    Keep the name.

    I would have preferred it stayed in Birmingham in the first place. It hasn’t been the same since Auburn ruined the 50/50 ticket split that made for a truly special atmosphere.

  3. Dystopos Says:

    First time I’ve heard of Alabama trying to get rid of a football tradition. How many of their “traditional” 12 national championships should we submit for review?

  4. Tubby Says:

    Man, Aubbies, isn’t a little early to start whining?

  5. Mark Says:

    I have no dog in this fight (I’m from Georgia Tech) but I think the name is a good one. Keep it.

  6. Wheeler Says:

    – careful dystopos, that’s a good way to get shot. 😉

    – also, i’ll add that other than being a b’ham resident, i, like mark, have no dog in this fight. i’m not going to tell you where i’m from, though, because it would probably cost me a lot of readers.

  7. Dystopos Says:

    Don’t get me wrong. My grandfather was a big UA booster and I’ve been a Bama fan in an Auburn household since I was born. I attended neither esteemed University and continue to wish them both well and to lean Crimson when they play each other (unless AU has a legitimate shot at a national title).

    I’m just surprised to see a Tuscaloosan arguing to get rid of a tradition. Any tradition.


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