U.S. Markets closed

Roll Jedi: Bama fans, DragonCon heroes mix and mingle in Atlanta's streets

Bama fans and DragonCon attendees unite. (Courtesy Tim York)

ATLANTA – The exact point where football and fantasy cross over is a Waffle House. Of course it is.

At this very moment, downtown Atlanta is playing host to two of the country’s most passionate fanbases—football fans in town for Bama-FSU, and fantasy/sci-fi fans in town for Dragon*Con. Come Saturday night, more than 70,000 fans will stream into the new Mercedez-Benz Stadium, most sporting Bama crimson or Florida State garnet. And an estimated 80,000 superheroes, faeries, hobbits, ninjas, and mercenaries will patrol the streets of Atlanta. That’s an awful lot of role-playing and hero worship.

You walk from Mercedes-Benz Stadium—today and for the foreseeable future the white-hot center of college football culture—toward the five (!) hotels hosting DragonCon, and it’s like cruising from a freshwater river toward the salt-water ocean. The ROLL TIDEs and tomahawk chops go from constant to infrequent to occasional. And then, at almost the exact halfway point between the two epicenters—the Waffle House at the corner of Centennial Park Boulevard and Andrew Young International Drive—you see it: the first costumed conventioneer, sporting a kelly-green Link tunic amid the crimson.

Hike a couple more blocks up, and then they’re everywhere: Deadpools, dead-eyed Victorian zombies, Terminators, stormtroopers, Harley Quinns. Once you reach Peachtree Street in downtown Atlanta, Alabama fans find themselves in an unfamiliar position: outnumbered and unrecognized.

“Someone asked us if we were cosplaying as our favorite athletes,” says Ally-Claire Thigpen, an Alabama student from Jackson, Miss. who, like her friends, sported a range of Bama gear. “I mean…I guess?”


“Alabama fans are generally a very conservative culture. We prefer golf shirts and Bama gear,” says Tim York, who is in fact wearing a golf shirt as his son Judson sports Bama gear. “This is a little bit out there, but it’s a lot of fun. We like seeing it.” York, a Charlotte resident who comes from a long family of Bama fans, discusses the culture of the Tide at a hotel bar on Peachtree as a blue-skinned Yondu and a zombie Charlie Chaplin wander by—you know, routine stuff.

Of course, not everyone sees things so amicably, particularly if they’re not wandering the streets of Atlanta this weekend. One cheerful Alabama fan—he describes himself as “tall and handsome”—refuses to allow a photo of himself with video game characters Sonic and Knuckles appear on Yahoo Sports, perhaps out of concern about how that might look to the folks (and boss) back home.

Still, he loves the DragonCon throngs, and allows that “they’ve never been anything but cool to us, and we’ve never been anything but cool to them. It’s all a good time.”

Alabama fans at Bryant-Denny. Wearing costumes and face paint. (AP File Photo)

Perhaps the best part of the culture clash is that it allows both sides—which have viewed each other with skepticism bordering on hostility since ninth-grade history class—to recognize just how much they have in common. To the rest of the world, there’s not a whole lot of difference between “Roll Tide” and “May The Force Be With You,” between Bama bangs and Wolverine’s spiked hair, between houndstooth and chain mail. Jalen Hurts, Jar Jar Binks—fandom is fandom, man, and joining in with other true believers is what it’s all about.

Plus, both fanbases enjoy a bit of creative speculation, like whether Batman could beat up the Night King, or just how many national titles Alabama really has. When asked to do a bit of cross-genre conjecture, Bama fans unsurprisingly think that Nick Saban is a more creative evil genius than Darth Vader (“Well, maybe not evil, but definitely a genius,” student Houston Heard says) and that Bo Scarbrough could take down Thor one-on-one. The question of whether Alabama could defeat the Avengers leads to a series of predictable responses (“Pffft. Alabama,” says expatriate Bama fan Rebecca Walden of Pittsburgh, in mock-disgust at the very thought).

“To me, it would come down to the trenches,” Heard says, getting into the spirit of the thing. “What’s their D-line like? We’d also have to think about quarterback. Who would they have at QB? Iron Man can fly, but so can Jalen Hurts.” The goblins and wizards walking past might disagree with the prediction, but they’d surely be on board with the breakdown.

In the throng outside the Westin Peachtree Plaza, a Bama fan wearing a crimson t-shirt and a half-collapsed elephant head as a hat is looking around like a kid separated from his mom in a mall. A DragonCon-goer, sporting the classic comic-book mercenary look—spiked hair and long black leather trenchcoat—walks past him and says, “Roll Tide.”

“Roll Tide!” the Bama fan replies, grinning at the kindred spirit.

The mercenary takes a drag on his cobalt-blue vape pen, smiles at his companion, a pointed-eared faerie, and nods at the Bama fan. “He fits right in here.”

DragonCon attendees. Seriously–there’s not much difference between them and the Bama fans. (AP File Photo)

____
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.

  • This Is How Much Money You Should Have in Savings at Every Age
    Business
    Money

    This Is How Much Money You Should Have in Savings at Every Age

    Based on the priorities they shared, here are the steps you should target from your 20s to your 60s… and into retirement. What to do: Transfer any credit card balances to a 0% card and use the savings to pay down even more debt. Slay the work, learn negotiation skills, practice in advance, and ask for the raises and promotions you deserve.

  • FC Barcelona President Says Messi Won't Be Sold
    Sports
    Bloomberg Video

    FC Barcelona President Says Messi Won't Be Sold

    Feb.20 -- FC Barcelona President Josep Bartomeu discusses the value of star player Lionel Messi. He speaks exclusively to Bloomberg's Ed Ludlow in London.

  • Ambulance abuse note woman pleads guilty
    News
    BBC News

    Ambulance abuse note woman pleads guilty

    A 26-year-old woman who verbally abused paramedics and left a foul-mouthed note on their ambulance in Stoke-on-Trent has admitted a public order offence. Kirsty Sharman, of Parsonage Street, also accepted writing the handwritten message, which said she did not care "if the whole street collasped [sic]" . Paramedics were dealing with a 999 call in her street in Tunstall on Sunday. At North Staffordshire Justice Centre, chairman of the magistrate said it was an "absolutely despicable incident". 'Abuse not acceptable' The ambulance had been responding to a next door neighbour's emergency call to help his wife, who was "experiencing breathing difficulties", prosecutor Liz Ryder told magistrates.

  • 2 Bargain Stocks You Can Buy Right Now
    Business
    Motley Fool

    2 Bargain Stocks You Can Buy Right Now

    Take, for example, natural gas companies Kinder Morgan (NYSE: KMI) and Antero Resources (NYSE: AR), which currently sell at bargain-basement prices compared to peers. It's a mind-boggling discount since they should trade at a premium valuation given their best-in-class operations. Kinder Morgan's stock has plunged a jaw-dropping 60% over the past three years even though the natural gas pipeline company's distributable cash flow (DCF) has only dipped about 7% from the peak.

  • Blue Skies Ahead For Weatherford?
    Business
    Forbes

    Blue Skies Ahead For Weatherford?

    Weatherford International is the oilfield services company some love to hate. Its previous management has been criticized as incompetent, its suite of services narrower than its peers and its debt load daunting. “The most hated name? That’s easy: WFT,” Seaport Global Securities analysts said in a note recently, referring to the company by its ticker symbol. But there are signs that the company – the smallest of the industry’s big four led by Schlumberger – may be on the mend. On Wednesday Weatherford announced a multi-step debt financing plan that will take some of the pressure off. Its shares jumped by 8% on the news to nearly $3 per share (they later eased back to $2.82). Bill Herbert, senior

  • 2 Stocks That Turned $3,000 Into More Than $100,000
    Business
    Motley Fool

    2 Stocks That Turned $3,000 Into More Than $100,000

    Berkshire has big stakes in many of the market's blue chips, including Bank of America, American Express, Apple, and General Motors, to name only a few. Some of Berkshire's top picks haven't just been in the portfolio for years, they've occupied space for decades -- American Express is a banner example (Buffett first loaded up on the stock more than 50 years ago). With that kind of patience, Berkshire and its shareholders have been more than handsomely rewarded.

  • Business
    InvestorPlace

    Investors in Microsoft Corporation Stock Shouldn’t Forget About LinkedIn 

    There’s no doubt all eyes were focused on the cloud when Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) announced its Q2 2018 results at the end of January. By most people’s estimation, they were pretty darn good, yet Microsoft stock barely moved. In the three weeks since, the MSFT stock price has lost about $3, tempting some experts to call it a buy including InvestorPlace contributor Vince Martin.

  • Is It Too Late To Buy Hecla Mining Company (NYSE:HL)?
    Business
    Simply Wall St.

    Is It Too Late To Buy Hecla Mining Company (NYSE:HL)?

    Hecla Mining Company (NYSE:HL), a metals and mining company based in United States, received a lot of attention from a substantial price movement on the NYSE in the over the last few months, increasing to $4.49 at one point, and dropping to the lows of $3.46. This high level of volatility gives investors the opportunity to enter into the stock, and potentially buy at an artificially low price. A question to answer is whether Hecla Mining’s current trading price of $3.75 reflective of the actual value of the small-cap?

  • Here's How Internet Darlings Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir Respond to Those Relationship Theories
    Celebrity
    Time

    Here's How Internet Darlings Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir Respond to Those Relationship Theories

    It’s the question on everyone’s lips: are Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir dating? Leave it to Today Show hosts Hoda Kotb and Savannah Guthrie to try to get to the bottom of the mystery. In an interview with the skaters following their win, Kotb and Guthrie came right out with the question, asking about their dating status and calling their chemistry “undeniable.” “Would you guys just give us a little 411 on that situation?” Kotb asked.

  • Better Stock: Walmart Inc. (WMT) vs. Costco Wholesale Corporation (COST)
    Business
    Motley Fool

    Better Stock: Walmart Inc. (WMT) vs. Costco Wholesale Corporation (COST)

    Over the last five years, the membership-based model of Costco has helped the company's stock double the returns of Walmart. Will Costco's outperformance continue? In the investing world, there's nothing more important to evaluate than the sustainable competitive advantages of companies that you want to own.

  • 3 Biotech Stocks To Avoid
    Business
    Forbes

    3 Biotech Stocks To Avoid

    Hope stocks. Fads. Castles in the sky. Those are the words I think of when I see a stock that sells for 100 times revenue or more. In my view, you almost have to be crazy to invest in them. Over the years, a typical stock has usually sold for about 1.4 times revenue. In today’s rich market the prevailing ratio is 2.25. So, we’re talking about stocks that sell for 44 times prevailing valuations, which are themselves rich. The vast majority of these stocks are biotech stocks, and proponents argue that they are worth the inflated multiples. These companies are searching for treatments for cancer, heart disease, multiple sclerosis or other diseases that terribly afflict humankind. Why shouldn’t they

  • 3 Growth Stocks That Could Put Netflix's Returns to Shame
    Business
    Motley Fool

    3 Growth Stocks That Could Put Netflix's Returns to Shame

    Finding, buying, and holding on to stock in companies that overcome challenges and overdeliver on promises, like Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX), is a great way to produce market-beating performance. Rich Smith (Boeing): Name a stock that will put Netflix's returns to shame? Sure, on one hand, Netflix stock has nearly doubled over the past year and is up nearly tenfold in price over the past five years.

  • This Olympic Halfpipe Skier Didn't Do a Single Trick. Here's How She Made It to the Games
    Sports
    Time

    This Olympic Halfpipe Skier Didn't Do a Single Trick. Here's How She Made It to the Games

    Hungarian freeskier Elizabeth Swaney may have made it to the 2018 Winter Olympics, but she took a bit of a different route than the rest of the athletes in PyeongChang. Swaney’s Olympic run began and ended during Monday’s ladies’ halfpipe qualification when she skied a run that featured absolutely zero tricks. There were only 24 quota spots available in women’s ski halfpipe at this year’s Olympics, but injuries combined with countries not using all their spots made it so that the No. 34-ranked Swaney was able to compete in the Games.

  • Russia, Vladimir Putin are the enemy, not Trump or Democrats: Col. Ralph Pet
    Politics
    Fox Business Videos

    Russia, Vladimir Putin are the enemy, not Trump or Democrats: Col. Ralph Pet

    Russia needs to pay a price for what they attempted to do, and President Trump should enact sanctions on the Kremlin.