I heard an Auburn fan tell this joke last week: “What do an Alabama fan and a maggot have in common? They can both live off a dead bear for 20 years.”
In a hormonal rage — I’m pregnant remember — I threw down my glass, kicked off my shoes, sat in the middle of the floor and pitched an epic two year old-style temper tantrum, screaming, “THAT’S MEAN! YOU HURT MY FEELINGS! I’M GONNA GO TELL MY MOM!!!”
I cried and whined and stomped around the restaurant. How could anyone say something so hurtful??? My friends saw me upset, so they joined in, also throwing fits and calling for that Auburn fan’s head on a platter. “HE’S A JERK! THROW HIM OUT OF HERE! DID YOU HEAR HIM MAKE FUN OF US???”
Sounds perfectly normal, right? No. Actually, that’s not normal at all, unless you really are two years old. And no, I didn’t really do that. Though lately it seems as though more and more collegiate football fans have taken this approach to dealing with jabs delt by opposing fans.
At SEC Media Days, Bama fan and blogger Eric Blackerby wore a shirt that declared, in huge block letters: “I Hate Auburn.” For some reason, this shirt and Mr. Blackerby himself made national headlines. Was it in poor taste? Sure. However, his own blog clearly gives a disclaimer to his past and impending behaviors in his About Me section: “My name is Eric. My love of and loyalty to the University of Alabama football team is unparalleled and completely inappropriate. I hate all other teams, and wish them peril.”
Am I seriously the only one who can find humor in this? Change the word “Alabama” to the school of your choice, and it’s still completely hilarious. Try as I might, I just can’t wrap my head around why his wearing a t-shirt was such a big deal. I have been to the Auburn campus plenty of times. In fact, I’ve been to every single SEC campus at least once. Every place I’ve gone, there have been t-shirts, banners, stickers, keychains, etc. with “I Hate Whoever-Our-Biggest-Rival-Is” emblazoned on them.
On ESPN’s College GameDayLive, you’ll see signs ridiculing practically every BCS team that people hold up for all to see on national television.
But Blackerby, who assumed his shirt would get a few laughs and even a couple of “Eh…stupid Bammer” comments, has been virtually crucified for sporting a shirt with a total of 11 letters on it. People are likening him to Harvey Updyke, the incompetent moron responsible for poisoning the Toomer’s Corner trees. I’m sorry, but anyone who would compare the desecration of living trees that were and are a veritable institution at Auburn University to a man wearing a “not nice” shirt, is a complete idiot.
We’ve all heard the wisdom of Thumper the rabbit – “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” But I want to know – when did that start applying to college football? When did the pussification of collegiate football fans occur? At what point did it become a felony hate-crime to tell a joke or wear a t-shirt that says “Your team sucks? It might be distasteful. It might not even be nice.
But who really cares? And if you do, my main question is – WHY?
Why have we now moved to making nicey-nice in a sport where the coaches routinely use more curse words in the span of one game than a sailor in his entire Naval career? Has it become impossible to laugh at jokes and comments made about your school? Why can we no longer say “Real funny, ya big dumb redneck” and move along with our lives? After the disasterous 2005 Iron Bowl, in which the Tide nation watched in horror as Brodie Croyle was sacked an impressive ELEVEN times, an Auburn bumper sticker made the rounds reading “Honk If You Sacked Brodie.” The game was so embarrassing, I figured it was one of those either laugh-or-cry moments. I decided to laugh and bought one of those stickers for myself.
To quote Larry the Cable Guy – “I don’t care who you are, that’s just funny right there.”
I’m not trying to make this an Alabama-Auburn thing, because it’s not confined to those two teams. I just live in the state of Alabama and it’s what I hear day in and day out. But regardless of the colors you wear on game day –
I hate to break it to you, but there is someone out there who friggin HATES your team.
Sometime this season, jokes will be made about your school, the players, and the fans of your team. Sorry, LSU people – you really do smell like corndogs. It might suck, Georgia fans, but when your team’s mascot is a “dawg” and you bark at every kickoff, you have to be prepared for opposing fans to ride your asses with dog-related puns and jabs. To my Auburn dudes – you will forever be referred to as liking a Cow College. Bama fans, realize that a vast majority of your school’s fanbase comes from people missing most of their teeth who have never set foot on the UA campus. South Carolina people – I giggle like a 12 year old whenever someone says the word “Cocks.”
Can’t help it; it’s a reflex. And Miss State guys…well….nevermind. No one cares. Are you really in the SEc?
In no way do I advocate making personal jabs or being deliberately hateful to a particular person. But there is no rule that says we all have to get along. A healthy ribbing does wonders to fuel die-hard fandom and cement allegiances for life.
I sincerely doubt that prior to a game, the players on both competing teams walk out to the field and say “I’m really excited to be playing against you today. That tackle you made last week was impressive. I sincerely hope you play your very best and that we have a good, clean game.”
Um…no. They’re thinking “I hate your stupid ass and I hope you get laid out and trampled on the 20 yard line.”
But then they play the game, and that’s it. It’s over. At least, until next season. If the players can handle it and leave it all on the field, so should the fans. I move that everyone stop acting like 5 year olds in kindergarten and start behaving like adults with enough intelligence to know when to just let it go.
It’s FOOTBALL and at the end of the day, it’s supposed to be FUN. Lighten up. And for God’s sake, grow a pair.
(Editor’s note: Due to a technical issue, this article was previously attributed to Clay Travis. The byline has been corrected.)