Tommy and Kaley Atchison won’t be cheering for their spouse’s team during Saturday’s Iron Bowl. Kaley said watching the game together is like walking on egg shells. “It get’s pretty intense,” Tommy said. -- Katie Wood

Marriage endures in-state rivalry

Published 11:03pm Friday, November 23, 2012

As the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Auburn Tigers prepare to face off in the Iron Bowl Saturday in Tuscaloosa, fans across the state are doing the same. Passionate is one of the few words that can accurately describe football fans in this state, where the intense rivalry often brings out the best and the worst. So what happens when an Auburn fan marries an in-state enemy — an Alabama fan — can they watch the game together without breaking each other’s necks or their relationship?

That’s something Tommy and Kaley Atchison can answer.

Kaley was raised to as a die-hard Auburn fan, just like her mom. She graduated from Auburn University and said she would never be seen wearing red and white on Iron Bowl Saturday.

Tommy grew up in Tuscaloosa, graduated from the University of Alabama and said he’s always been an Alabama guy.

“When we started dating, Alabama was terrible and Auburn was good,” Kaley said. “Everything has completely reversed itself now.”

“Yeah, but Alabama was never as bad as Auburn is bad now,” Tommy quickly chimed in.

It’s comments like those that fuel the fire of this love-hate football relationship. In 2006 the couple went to their first Iron Bowl together, and they haven’t missed one since.

“I was hoping we’d miss this one, but we just got tickets,” Kaley said of Saturday’s game.

The couple, who will be sitting side-by-side in Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday will not be giving each other high-fives when their team does well, instead they’ll be “walking on egg shells,” Kaley said.

“I mean it’s just really intense. You don’t want to get too excited and be obnoxious and then it come back to bite you,” she said.

Instead, the couple said, “You make friends with the people around you.”

Even when the teams aren’t playing each other, it’s hard for the Atchison’s to push past the rivalry and support their spouse’s team.

Kaley said other than the Iron Bowl, they only go to Alabama games.

“It’s a compromise,” she said. “Of all the things that we could be compromising about, that’s no big deal. But I’m still an Auburn fan. I’m not going to cheer for Alabama — not unless it’s like an unbelievable play or something, but even then, I’ll just clap and yell.”

“I don’t cheer for Auburn, I don’t even clap,” Tommy said. “Kaley’s a lot more supportive of Alabama then I am of Auburn. She was so happy when Texas A&M beat us, but I mean, she still likes going to games; she’s happy if we do well.”

Kaley nodded but said, “I am kind of getting sick of them being so good.”

And said her support is, “Just to keep my household calm … to keep the peace.”

Like making new holiday traditions or deciding which religion to raise a child, the Atchison’s are faced with the decision of which football team their children, Thomas Clay, 3, and Kate, 2, should grow up supporting.

“They’re pretty much Alabama fans nowadays because there’s not much of a reason to say war eagle — seriously,” Tommy said. “The Auburn excitement has kind of been absent this year.”

“It’s really sad, what has happened [to Auburn this year],” Kaley said. “But our kids know both, both war eagle and roll tide.”

And while the little Atchison’s are allowed to cheer for both teams, their dad has other plans.

“I just say, if you want to go to football games, you better be a Bama fan because I’m not taking you to Auburn,” Tommy said.

The one thing the couple adamantly agreed on when it comes to the Iron Bowl, is the fact that after the game, the winner is allowed to gloat as much as they want.

“That’s totally OK,” Kaley said.

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