Only once in my life have I seen my mom relate to sports.
Even though I'm her favorite son (sorry, bro), I'm not sure she's ever read one of my stories about sports in its entirety.
In her head, she has a list of words that flags her that a story is about sports. When she hears or reads one of them, she immediately quits paying attention.
The list includes words like "ball," "goal," "score," "win," "team," "throw," "catch," "shoot" and, of course, "Duke."
My Duke-alum dad once took her on a date to a Duke-UNC basketball game (aka, the biggest rivalry in college sports according to many) in Cameron Indoor Stadium way back in the 1970s.
The Blue Devils beat the Tar Heels on a last-second shot. The home crowd, including Dad, celebrated and probably had no intentions to stop talking about the game for at least a week.
But, according to Dad, Mom turned to him and said in a tone of boredom, "So, what do we do now?"
Mama Giles didn't have any boredom issues, though, when she visited her sports-writing youngest son in Tennessee two years ago.
For some unknown reason, when she saw Crimson Tide fans, she related to college football.
She related to the hatred Tennessee has for the team from that neighboring state. The one that Tennessee has played every third Saturday in October (OK, sometimes the fourth) since 1928, except for '43 because of WWII.
And she was filled with energy to start the favorite part of her game-day experience - using her persistent, sometimes annoying, Southern drawl to get the cheapest ticket possible from a scalper.
While we were cooking out at my friend's apartment, Mom stood out by the road harassing passing 'Bama fans.
"Ya'll shud just go 'head n' give me yer tickets," she would say. "Ya'll shud just go home now.
"Ya'll won't like what you see in that stadium today."
She ended up buying tickets from a UT fan.
But she didn't stop talking to those fans dressed in Crimson.
When a group of hot girls from Alabama passed by, I had to hide my face.
"Ya'll shud come up here and eat with us," Mom yelled at the girls. "We've got extra hamburgers, extra hot dogs and extra boys (sounded more like "bo-o-o-o-o-ys").
"We've got Matthew, Drew, James ..."
Like her youngest son, Mom doesn't always know when to shut up.
Alabama demolished Tennessee that day, 34-14, handing the Vols their third loss of the season and confirming 2002 as UT's most disappointing season this millennium.
But I was happy to see Mom angered by the result.
I think that is the only time I've seen sports have an emotional impact on that woman who accidentally married a Duke-loving sports nut.
I think she should come visit me again this week (bring Dad if you want, but really, I don't mind if you leave him at home) ... I think she should again start trash-talking the first time she hears the words "Roll Tide."
And I think she should go from 'Bama fan to 'Bama fan telling them in her thick North Carolina accent that "A bad day at Tennessee is still better than a good day at Alabama," and that Phillip Fulmer is the most honest, wonderful coach in all of college football, and that Alabama deserved every suspension and penalty it has received in the past decade.
Go Mom!
- Matt Giles is the sports editor of The Daily Beacon and a senior in journalism. He can be reached at mgiles@utk.edu.