Have A Happy Fourth Of July

From Thomas Jefferson to Lee Greenwood (and have those two ever before been in the same sentence?), Kate Smith, the Boston Pops, Neil Diamond. It's all about America, and Independence Day is something to make us all proud of being a part of the greatest nation ever.

A previous reminisce is that those who work in college athletics may enjoy Independence Day more than any other holiday, though perhaps not for all the right reasons. It is without question my favorite.

In my years working in the athletics department at The University of Alabama, we received an annual memo a week or so prior to the Fourth. Although Paul Bryant was the athletics director, his right-hand man, Sam Bailey, handled many duties. (A modern day athletics department has perhaps dozens of administrators with titles of associate athletics director and the like, but Coach Bryant had one associate athletics director—Coach Bailey—and only a couple of assistant athletics directors.)

Coach Bailey's memo was the same each year except on the date line it was obvious that a secretary had used White Out (younger than 35 or so, don't even ask) on the previous year's memo and typed in the new year. It was a simple statement, along the lines of:

"The athletics department will be closed for the Fourth of July holiday."

It was notable, because that was the only holiday when we weren't working. Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's were times of football and basketball. Football had begun by Labor Day. Baseball didn't end until Memorial Day. So Independence Day came to be the favorite holiday of those of us who worked in the athletics department.

It is the nature of athletics that the work is the time of play for others – weekends and nights. That made a real holiday even more special.

Independence Day, like many holidays, is mostly about family and fun. That has been the case for us this week. Boating and grilling and chatting, and kids in the water from morning until night, and then tonight—possible because we had two big rains at Yellow Creek this week—we'll have fireworks.

A friend of mine who was born in Turkey and is a longtime citizen of the United States often says, "What a great country."

I think we all know that as we celebrate it with a day of fun.

Happy Fourth of July!

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