(originally posted on BON, aimed at Longhorns and others alike.)
First things first: I'm a loyal Longhorn, some might say a rabid one. I bleed Burnt Orange and still remember the day when I was 12 years old getting to meet Earl Campbell and Johnny Lam Jones at their dorm...and getting to throw passes on DKR field with Earl. Will never forget that.
I posted this this article a day or so ago on BON and have been grateful for some nice comments back. (I did share a copy with Coach Mack Brown. No reply as yet.)
I went into the BCS game not expecting Texas to win. After the initial shock of Colt getting knocked out of the game, I stayed with the game and actually began believing it was possible to pull it off, thanks to tremendous heart, courage and determination by both the offense and defense, and an 18-year old kid.
Despite my low expectations going in, I was still terribly disappointed in the loss. But I have to say, after checking out the comments on Longorn, Sooner and Alabama SBNation sites I have become far more disappointed in the the aftermath...disappointed in Sooner, Tide, Aggie and Longhorn fans alike.
I'm pretty sure this post will earn me a flame-fest from all the sites and fans above. So be it...
What the hell has happened to civility and mutual respect...to humanity? I'm an over the top Texas fan, no denying it. I'm one of those arrogant types that believes there is just something a little more magical in the air around DKR Memorial Field...that the turf is just a bit greener here. I have lived away from Texas and deeply missed my State.
And every fan of their respective school and son of a special State feels the same.
What I don't feel, is entitlement to personally attack, belittle or otherwise marginalize another human simply because of the team they support. Even if I think their opinions are bullocks, what gives me the right to assail them personally (publicly)? What gives me the right to seek them out on their turf and wait to pounce on them for their "misguided views" and "ill-considered" support of a sports team. (Notice the quotes, flamers...i'm mocking myself.)
Don't get me wrong...i'm sickly competitive. I learned the art of "step and twist" when my opponent was down. I remember the perverse satisfaction I felt after laying a hit on a guy and hearing his leg snap. 2nd place is the worst place.
But I've been humbled and disillusioned by how easily we vilify each other on these sites...how presumptuous we all are to feel entitled to tear a man down for his opinion.
I signed up today for both the Bama SBNation site as well as the Sooner one...for the privelege of sharing my views. I found it interesting that both sites had the following acceptance language before allowing one membership:
Sooners Site: "Make sure that you are respectful of other posters here on the site regardless of which school they are affiliated with. After all we are Sooners! Vulgar language and personal attacks on other site members will not be tolerated and could result in getting banned. Have fun and post with class."
Alabama Site: "This is an Alabama blog for Alabama fans, but we talk about all kinds of stuff from football in general to the music and movies we like, so you’re welcome to do the same. Rival fans are also welcome, but in everything you comment on or post, remember, the anonymity of the internet does not give you license to be rude. Secondly, let’s remember that there are a lot of different people that root for the Tide, and therefor a lot of different people are reading this blog. We want to keep things PG-13 around here and any sort of profane/racist/sexist/homophobic/just plain hateful comments will be deleted immediately and you are likely to be banned. Good rule of thumb, if you wouldn’t want your mother reading or seeing it, don’t write or post it."
"To the Alabama fans, we expect members of our community to respect other SBN communities and their right to enjoy free discussion among their fellow fans. Having a rival fan stick a nose in is not fun, and if they see fit to ban you from their site, we will also ban you from ours for at least one week. Whether you like it or not, you represent both the Alabama fanbase and RBR when you comment on other blogs. Don’t make us look bad."
I'm certain the BurntOrangeNation site has similar guidance.
I tooled around on all three sites today and while each one has some thoughtful, analytical, and appropriately enthusiastic posts, there is also a hell of a lot of trash...in some cases, downright despicable behavior...by fans of all schools, including Texas. Unsportsmanlike behavior, which is pretty ironic given what these sites are devoted to.
I watched interviews of Alabama players prior to the BCS games, just begging them to trash-talk the 'Horns. I wanted to not like them. Yet what I found were articulate, confident gentlemen. They were great kids...credits to their school, families and State.
We are all guilty of this...looking for a fight. It doesn't matter who throws the first punch. If you're trolling a competitor's site whom you've bested, give them the dignity to lament their fall. If you are trolling the winner's site, give them the freedom to celebrate. And in either case, if you are offended by what you read, have the courage to turn the other cheek...take the high road...demonstrate the discipline, honor and character that men who play the sports we watch demonstrate.
Maybe I've lost the plot...the 'edge'. Perhaps in my advancing years I've become a Pollyanna. But this isn't what I remembered sportsmanship to be. It isn't what I see us trying to teach kids. And it isn't what I saw in Colt McCoy's ESPN interview after the BCS game.
Sports and competition are great. They are healthy. I'll go so far as saying they are necessary to human development. But dismantling a person because he or she doesn't agree with you isn't sporting at all. It's cowardly, cheap and disgraceful. We are all better than that...we all deserve better.
I dare us not to hide behind the anonymity of the internet...to face each other with the same character and respect that our players do each game...where they can't hide behind an LCD screen and insult each other.
Hook'em, Roll, Wreck'em, Boomer & Gig'em