Over the past several weeks leading up to last night’s game I have seen countless Auburn fans rooting for Notre Dame. My take has been… why would I pull for anyone over the SEC? My observation was by taking the high road you remain at least a classy fan, regardless of your school.
I flashed back to 2010 and recalled the countless bama fans that were sporting Oregon Duck gear the week prior too and on the evening of the game. Some in my own family. I recall the anger I felt towards them. Why couldn’t they be happy for our moment in the sun? As far as I am concerned… there is no excuse for this kind of behavior.
Flash back to last night…
As the two teams took to the field last night, I was telling my wife at the dinner table that bama was just too strong and that Notre Dame didn’t stand a chance. I thought bama would win by 28 or 35 points simply because they were a balanced attack offense and their defense was much better than Notre Dame’s. Almost instantly my son, the oldest at eleven, began coming to Notre Dame’s defense. “No Dad. You are wrong.” My response was that we would know in the first quarter. But I warned my Son, “we don’t pull for the other team just because ours didn’t do well.”
Sure enough bama’s team didn’t disappoint. They quickly rolled off two touch downs… and it appeared early on that it was going to be a rout. If you remember, bama got some pretty controversial calls early on. At which point my son began weeping. He exclaimed that ESPN loved bama. And that they would do anything to help bama win. That is when I asked him… after all that we talked about… why would he make an accusation like that? He proceeded to tell me at the ripe age of eleven that I just didn’t understand.
Perplexed I asked patiently what was it that I didn’t understand? He said, “Dad, I have to listen to those “fans” tomorrow at school.” I began to laugh but he began to cry. He explained that they would be incessant about how bama was the better school and overall team. I calmly looked my son in the face and said… “well this year Son, that is true.” When he argued for Auburn’s sake… in exasperation thinking his Dad had surely lost his mind… I said “who won the game this year between AU and bama?” That’s when the truth came out… “Dad, it isn’t fair.” And I calmly put my arm around him and looked him in the eye and said… “No son, it isn’t. Sometimes life isn’t fair. But when this kind of thing happens and it will, just remember God is teaching you an important life lesson. It’s called humility.”
Thinking that he had just been hoodwinked he looked back at me and said… “Dad, how can you be so calm about it… you just don’t understand what it’s like.” I calmly looked back at him and began to laugh… and said “1961, 1964, 1965, 1973, 1978, 1979, & 1992.” He obviously didn’t understand and looked back at me and said… “Dad, what are you talking about?” Again, I looked back at him and said… “You just said I didn’t understand and I replied with these dates. Do you know what they are for?” He said “no”… and I said “these are dates bama won National Titles when I was growing up. And all I heard for weeks after they won the championship that the only bowl Auburn was going to was the “toilet bowl”. I went on to explain to my son that the rage and anger I felt was every bit as real as his… but in the end, it got me nowhere. I said to him… “That is why I urged you to let yours go.”
When he continued to lament, I explained to him how lucky he was… he got to see Auburn win a National Title as a child. When I was a kid and a young fan I had to take mine on faith.
His response was typical. He came to the realization pretty quickly. He looked at me and said… “Well, I guess the saying is true… we are bama’s little brother.” Again, I had to laugh. I looked at him and said… “that depends on how you look at it I suppose. But until Auburn win’s sixteen National Championships… I guess we will have to acknowledge bama’s history has more championships. That’s all.” My son was beside himself. “Dad, what are you saying?”
Again, I looked at my son and said… “Is that why you are an Auburn fan? Because of 2010? Because if it is… you picked your team for the wrong reason.” My son looked back at me teary eyed and said… “no Dad, I love Auburn because you loved Auburn.” I smiled. And I replied… “it’s the same for you and me.” But I said, “I learned to love Auburn for my own reasons as I grew up and later went to school there. Maybe you will too.”
I explained to him that being an Auburn fan and alumni isn’t for the weak at heart. The love for Auburn goes far beyond the exploits at Jordan Hare. He smiled. “I guess so.” And then I looked at him with a big grin on my face and said “you can always change sides if winning is going to be your thing.” He looked back at me and declared with an expression of commitment “never!”
That’s my boy!
Writer’s note: I want to take the opportunity to congratulate bama on a championship season. I honestly can’t stand your school… but I can’t argue with the results. No matter what, your team was the best in college football this year.
“There’s aways next year!”