I went to a tiny liberal arts college in Central Florida. It's not known to many outside the state, except for foreign tourists, and was recently awarded the "US's Most Beautiful Campus" by the Princeton Review.
We had a bunch of national championships (I used to know exactly but I've lost count) in D2 sports and rarely had much of a following from students. At least not like some other schools have.
I've been criticized (getting close to being on a daily basis) for the teams I choose to follow.
I'd like to be clear, though:I've always been a baseball fan and have only recently come to follow football and basketball. I have never claimed to know a whole lot about any sports and am not as addicted to ESPN as some of my friends are. I've dealt with feeling left out of conversations and feeling stupid by many people's conversations. In an effort to NOT make that happen, I've attempted to pay more attention to sports. I've chosen a few teams to pay attention to, some of which my family members follow, some of which are schools I attended or have friends who attended, some of which I've followed for a while, and some of which I simply chose. I don't purchase a lot of team paraphernalia and so I think I'm completely within my right to follow whatever teams I'd like without the criticism from outside voices who happen to disagree. I have a few Duke hats and t-shirts (and by the way, I attend that school) and one Boston Red Sox hat. That's it. If I hear another criticism of what teams I do or don't follow, why, and why you look down upon me for following them, I WILL NO LONGER CONSIDER YOU A FRIEND. HEAR ME LOUD AND CLEAR...IT HAS BEEN ENOUGH, it is no longer funny.
For grad school, I selected Duke University. In case you haven't heard, Duke's basketball team (and this silly one down the street) is pretty competitive. Since going to Duke, I've found a new love for college basketball. I mean seriously, go to one game in Cameron Indoor and you'll love it. I do. I love it.
But Duke students suck. They really do.
We yell, scream, shout obscenities, boo refs, scream some more, jump up and down, blow out your eardrums, and us Divinity students forget we have a life of faith for a couple of hours once a week or so. We talk a lot of basketball outside of Cameron but most of us leave the rude behavior in the room. Or, at least we try.
But now...college football season is here. While Duke has a pretty awful football team, I am from a state with a few good ones. And the hate circling Facebook (and I admit, I add to it) is again out of control. Rivalries vs. Rivalries, teams seemingly forgotten about trying to prove themselves, teams ranked highly trying to maintain their rankings, teams from the middle of nowhere going 5-0, and certain conferences dominating. It makes for "fun" conversation but the addition of Internet trolls (again, I'm not innocent) has made it worse.
But college football has gotten worse with the advent of social media.
Rivalries that bordered on hatred have developed into full-on hatred. And relationships are hurt and broken. It's no longer about disagreements, it's about who is right and why your loyalty to a team is far better than another person's loyalty. And if you cheer for a team and didn't attend that school, your fandom is somehow less than the other person's fandom (there's a strong argument to be made that this theory is correct...I used it with Duke earlier...but I don't ever think that a Duke fan who didn't attend is less of a fan than little old me who has been here for a year and a half). And if they think about things differently, you're wrong.
And it all comes down to winning and losing.
And I suppose I'm starting to see that this does nothing for unity.
It does nothing for society. Except sell t-shirts when your team wins.
I guess I'm kind of tired of the world taking themselves too seriously.
I guess I'm kind of tired of people not taking jokes.
I guess I'm kind of tired of us acting like winning is everything.
I guess I'm kind of tired of us thinking that our colors define who we are.
I guess I'm kind of tired of us.
We hurt others. We don't have conversations. And we alienate large groups of people. And while we may be unified inside those stadiums, we segregate ourselves.
I'm guilty of it, and I'd imagine many of you are too.
Seriously, enough with the hate on the teams I follow and comment on. It's enough. Really. What do you gain by making fun of me? Like really, what?