Interviewed by Leslie Criss | Photographed by Joe Worthem
Football season has arrived in the South. Among the many Ole Miss football fans heading to the Grove on game day will be sportswriter Wright Thompson who makes his home in Oxford. Thompson gave us his take on football as a way of life, a Southern fall ritual.
“Football season got real to me when the nitty-gritty of Grove tent logistics hit our group text.
There’s always a moment. For a long while, during spring and summer, it’s all platitudes and exaltations, and then suddenly August arrives and decisions must be made about the exact number of chairs that need to be set up.
I don’t know if football matters more here than other places. I mean, I’ve been to Green Bay and Pittsburgh. But football is a way of life in Oxford, and I don’t particularly care how other people do it, or where we rank. I know I feel happy, still and content with a box of Popeyes and three hours to kill before kickoff.
I like a plate set with the stations of the Grove cross: stuffed eggs, pimiento cheese, fried chicken. My mom is there. My daughters are there. All the couples, and the village of children, who make up our tribe are there, which makes this tribal.
These afternoons are the way, and they are a life, our life, a reenactment, a reunion, a christening, a communion. We do this in remembrance of you.”
Clarksdale native Wright Thompson is a senior writer for ESPN and is the bestselling author of “Pappyland: A Story of Family, Fine Bourbon, and the Things That Last” and “The Cost of These Dreams: Sports Stories and Other Serious Business.” Thompson, his wife Sonia and their family make their home in Oxford.