Whether you're skydiving, swimming with sharks or watching movies you know will test the absorbency of your underpants, there's something to be said for occasionally getting outside your comfort zone.
So last Saturday, instead of my normal Mainx24 revelry, I joined two friends heading to Atlanta to tailgate at the Southeastern Conference Championship.
As someone who is baffled by sports fandom, I had no personal investment in the game and don't remember much about it. To keep myself sane amid the cries of "Go Dawgs" and "Roll Tide," I instead considered a different matchup entirely, one between the two Southern states with the richest musical histories.
Here were the ground rules to determine the contestants.
Only teams in the pre-2012 conference were eligible, so no Texas A&M or Missouri malarkey. Also, solo musicians "played" for their birth state, and bands were allied to the states where they formed. So Elvis, a Tupelo native, would be on Mississippi's roster, but The Allman Brothers Band would play for Georgia, where the band formed, even though Gregg and Duane Allman were born in Nashville.
Those regulations shifted many artists' allegiances away from the states they're normally associated with, but in my mind, there's no doubt Tennessee and Louisiana would end up facing off.
The Big Easy melting pot produced a subgenre of jazz so distinct to New Orleans that the city is in the name. Louisiana has produced dozens of music legends, including Louis Armstrong, The Neville Brothers, Harry Connick Jr., Lucinda Williams, Fats Domino and The Meters.
And Tennessee? Where to start? Congress recognized Bristol as the birthplace of country music in 1998, Nashville is Music City, USA, and Memphis is intrinsically tied to the history of blues, soul and R&B. Tennessee might not be able to claim Elvis, but the list of native Tennessee music legends includes Chet Atkins, Carl Perkins, Roy Acuff, Aretha Franklin, Dolly Parton and Tina Turner.
I might not remember much about the actual SEC game, but thoughts of this fictional matchup interest me much more. I'm not sure who would win, but with such a rich cultural heritage in each state, it probably would be a nail- biter.
Undoubtedly, many of you disagree entirely. If so, shoot me your hate mail about how wrong I am and make your case for a more appropriate championship.
Contact staff writer Casey Phillips at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6205. Follow him on Twitter at @PhillipsCTFP.
Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, young adults, technology and people of interest. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German. He previously worked as the features editor for Sidelines at Middle Tennessee State University. Casey received the East Tennessee Society of Professional Journalists Award of Excellence for Reviewing/Criticism in ...