I was born in Eastern North Carolina, which means I wasn’t born in the heart of ACC country: I was born in Pirate Territory.
I explained to a Kinston tourist that local infatuation with piracy had more to do with a black-bearded man named Edward Teach than East Carolina University, but deep down I knew it was all bluster.
My high school colors were purple and gold; my uncle played at Dowdy-Ficklen back in the 20th century when students could also be athletes; heck my mother got her nursing degree while commuting to Greenville, (but she always rooted for the Wolfpack.)
The ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament (which is not canon if it’s not held in Greensboro) is broadcast in nearly every classroom in the state of North Carolina, but when you talk professional sports, you’ll see a schism in this state, not concerning allegiance, but degree of allegiance.
The Charlotte Hornets might as well have been in Tennessee when I was growing up watching from Goldsboro (Don’t forget this is when cable was 36 channels) and the most connection I ever felt to the team was through Mugsy Bogues in Space Jam.
I “rooted” for the Hornets, but Charlotte still felt a world away.
When the Panthers joined the NFL, though — I remember hearing about it from a clown at a birthday party in 1994 — I immediately became a fan. Continue reading