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Tiger Country

A mascot for the LSU Tigers
Uri Berliner, NPR /
A mascot for the LSU Tigers

Wed., Nov. 14, 8:03 a.m.
A Wal-Mart in Baton Rouge, La.

An entire section at the front of the store is stocked with LSU gear. LSU doggie beds, LSU serving platters, LSU bowls, umbrellas and caps. The school's colors — purple, gold and white — are everywhere.

I'm at Wal-Mart when the doors open because I packed for autumn in the mid-Atlantic, and it's sticky hot here, even early in the morning. Two presentable short-sleeved shirts: $18.50. Outside, the sky is hazy white and the sun is already beating down. The sign on the front of the IHOP says "Go Tigers." Just down the street, at the Gold Club Cabaret (that's a fancy name for strip club), the sign is the more regionally flavorful "Geaux Tigers." As we head off in the car towardcampus, I realize the theme has endless variations. The sign flashing outside the Walgreens says, "LSU Pet Sweater, $9.99, LSU Mr. Potato Head, $14.99." Oh, the team is big here. On a quiet residential street, a local politician's lawn sign sums up the outlook: "Steve Carter for State Representative, Beat 'Bama."

Talk about taking a safe, uncontroversial position.

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