For not the best of reasons, the Fourth of July has always been my favorite holiday. I have shared the story before. When I worked in the sports information office at Alabama in the 1970s, Sam Bailey was the only associate athletics director – Paul Bryant’s right-hand man and the person who handled many of the duties of Paul Bryant the athletics director.
Each year, a week or so before July 4, everyone in the athletics department would receive a Xerox copy of a memorandum from Coach Bailey. It was the same memo each year except that the date of the previous year had been “whited out” and re-typed with the current year.
The gist of the note was that the athletics department would be closed on July 4.
Big deal, you might think. Almost every American business is closed on Independence Day. But almost every business is also closed on Christmas and Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day and Memorial Day and Labor Day and on-and-on. But in athletics, those others were working days, particularly in two areas -- sports information and the training room. Today, the employees in the athletics department get the same holidays as the rest of The University insofar as spring break and time off for Christmas, etc.
We knew what we were in for. Football started practice before Labor Day and had a game shortly thereafter. Thanksgiving weekend was usually the final game of the season. During Christmas holidays (for the rest of The University) we were practicing for a bowl game, and usually left for the bowl site on Christmas Day. (It was a day to drop the kids off with grandparents that morning, and then make it to the airport for the flight to the bowl site.) The game was played on or about Jan. 1.
Other holidays, which might not affect football, were wiped out by other sports.
But on the Fourth of July, the offices in Memorial Coliseum (now Coleman Coliseum) were locked.
Obviously, Independence Day means much more than a day off. The tradition of American families and friends joining together for cookouts and fireworks doesn’t mean we ignore the importance of the greatest nation on Earth being founded by the brave Founding Fathers.
I am fortunate in having family and friends gathered at our home for a pleasant day of celebration, and I hope that it is a wonderful day for you all.
And on July 5 we’ll be back to work on Alabama athletics. As it always has been.