"The Bench Press"

Go "Inside" this exclusive weekly sports column from a unique and extreme sports personality. This week, Alex Anderson, known as AA on the Tony Basilio Show, takes a look at several Tennessee Traditions and how bad some Vol fans, including himself, taking losing at Rocky Top.

Your boy AA is back on the bench serving up a fresh batch of mediocre sports writing. I was reading an article one time about the different ways to lose a game and how tough losses come in many forms.

As a Tennessee football fan we have many great traditions. The Vol Navy. Running through the T. The Checkerboard Endzones. The Power T. Rocky Top, etc. However, the number one tradition of our fan base is getting our heart broken.

Being a Tennessee football fan is like having that hot girl go out with you during your awkward stage in middle school. She is doing it as a joke. She knows it. Her friends know it. Your friends know it. You suspect it, but you keep telling yourself: "This is real. She really likes me. I'm awesome." Then you try and plant one on her at a party and she throws a punch in your face, kicks you in the nuts and the entire party erupts in laughter while you run out crying.

OK, maybe that was just my experience but either way, it can be painful. To recall some of these losses it took a cocktail of prescription drugs I ordered from Nicaragua off the Internet and 17 Coronas because they had been banished to the recesses of my mind long ago. Losses, much like hurricanes and tornados, come in stages.

Here are the stages of losing for Tennessee football:

Stage 1. The Inevitable

A loss is expected no matter how hard you try and convince yourself Tennessee can win. The team the Vols are playing is superior in every facet of the game. The Vols have won a few games like this in their history but when they do, the victory spans generations, i.e., Miami 1985. This is by far the easiest loss to take and most of the time it doesn't affect a season one way or the other.

Examples: Florida 2007, Miami 2003.

Recovery Time: Before you get to your car.

Stage 2. The Tossup

These are games where both teams are evenly matched. A win here can be the difference between a mediocre season and a successful season. It should be noted the later in the season the game, the easier it is to take. This is the stage where inanimate objects (remote controls, lamps, drywall) start to become endangered.

Examples: 2007 Cal.

Recovery Time: Weeks 1-4, five days. Weeks 5+ two days.

Stage 3. The Rival Blowout

This stage is where physical symptoms such as nausea and headaches start to set in. You never like losing to your rival, but when it is a blowout, especially a home blowout ... it stings. Listening to a rival cheer in your own stadium is the equivalent of running into your ex and her doctor fiancé and his Stone Phillips hair at the grocery store. This is the stage where you start to see fans get arrested post-game.

Example: Bama 2008. UF 2008. UF 2002. UGA 2003.

Recovery Time: Until the Next Vol Win.

Stage 4: The Overlooked Upset

The game is mere formality. The Vols are rolling. We are looking ahead to January. And then ... BAM. We make some scrub from another team a household name. Johnny Majors specialized in this type of defeat. This is the stage where weight loss starts to set in from repeated vomiting and loss of appetite. Typically, this game includes a horrendous call that allows the inferior opponent to stay in the game just long enough to gain confidence.

Examples: Wyoming 2008, Memphis 1996, Vandy 2005. North Texas 197?

Recovery Time: Depending on the season recovery could take up to a year.

Stage 5: The Program Derail.

I would rather not discuss these games. These losses are so demoralizing they can set back the entire program. Fortunately, like major earthquakes, tsunamis, etc., they are once-a decade-type occurrences. For a loss to be a Stage 5 disaster it has to have two variables. It must derail a championship team and it must be unexpected. This is the stage where you see suicides, mattress fires and people surrendering their fandom. Horrible stuff.

Examples: 1990 Bama, 2001 LSU, 2008 UCLA

Recovery: Only two things cure a stage 5 loss, a coaching change or a championship.

Losses are a part of the game, we all know that. Even the youngest of Tennessee fans has experienced the heart-breaking defeat. Why then does it still hurt so bad? Because we care so much that's why.

That is why this program will not stay idle for long, because everyone around it cares too much to let it fail. One thing I have learned in my relatively young fanhood, the wins are not as sweet until you have experienced the bad losses. When the Vols walked off that field in Tempe, Ariz., in 1999, I thought national titles were a birthright.

My dad and his friends knew otherwise, and I think that win meant much more to their generation. As Vol fans we need to get back to embracing every precious game - we only get 12 a year. And when the wins come, which they will, this time let's not take them for granted.

Tell me how great I am at AlexAnderson1985@gmail.com

You can listen to AA daily on the Tony Basilio Show on ESPN Knoxville 1180 AM.


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