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Ed Southern goes deep on Southern college football (and basketball) in his new book

This time of year is a great time to be a college sports fan.

Ed Southern
Photo by Jess Blackstock
Ed Southern

College football is nearing the end of its regular season, with the best teams fighting for a playoff spot and others angling for a bowl game. And overlapping that is the start of college basketball season, which is an especially big deal here in North Carolina, as the North Carolina Tar Heels welcome a new coach, Hubert Davis, and the Duke Blue Devils say goodbye to the legendary Mike Krzyzewski, now in his final year.

Author Ed Southern has thought a lot about how and why college sports have hooked us so deeply — especially here in the South. He has written a book about it called “Fight Songs.” It covers a lot of territory — how he and his wife fell in love, how COVID has affected all our lives, how he grew up rooting for one of the losingest football teams in America, the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. (This might be their best season ever, which has made Ed very happy.)

But at its core, “Fight Songs” is a history lesson — how college football gained such a grip on the Deep South, and why college basketball has a nearly equal grip on North Carolina.

Ed and I talked recently as part of a virtual book-launch event sponsored by Park Road Books, the great independent bookstore here in Charlotte. By the end, we get sort of metaphysical, and talk about whether our society even deserves the joy of sports right now.

Show notes

Other music in this episode

  • Serge Quadrado, "Dream Team"
  • Lobo Loco, "Wunderbarer Moment"
Tommy Tomlinson has hosted the podcast SouthBound for WFAE since 2017. He also does a commentary, On My Mind, which airs every Monday.