It’s almost football season! I enjoy college football and I always have. Although I wrote earlier this year about the fact that university presidents think college football spending is out of control, I still love the game. Every fall, there is a fresh new slate, a clean opportunity to play hard and go for the best record in your conference. And of course, there are the college football rivalries. It’s hard not to get swept up in the excitement of it all. But I try really hard not to be obnoxious.
I grew up in Oklahoma, a fan of the Sooners my whole life. I met my husband while we were both going to school at the University of Oklahoma and several of my lifelong friendships were formed in the dorms. I cheer hard on OU – Texas weekend, and even harder during Bedlam. It’s football. You have to root for the home team.
Even so, I’ve never been one of those fans who gloat when a rival loses to another team. If Oklahoma State isn’t playing against the University of Oklahoma, I don’t mind cheering for OSU. In fact, if OU doesn’t have a shot at the conference championship, I always hope that at least the other big school from my home state has a chance. And if neither OU nor OSU have a shot, I will root for another Big 12 Conference team. I think that’s the classy thing to do.
Last football season, Oklahoma State had one of their best years ever. Unfortunately, the team’s success was not easy to handle for many of their own fans. I ended up unfriending close to a dozen people on Facebook, simply because they were too obnoxious to bear.
I never mind fans cheering for their own team. You can shout to the moon over a great game, and even if we are the most bitter rivals, I won’t hold it against you. But when fans start gloating over another team’s bad games, cheering about bad plays, and even taunting their rivals over injuries on the field, that crosses a line. There’s just no reason to tear down another team’s fans when their team is not even playing yours.
I’m glad I didn’t have to unfriend all of my Oklahoma State friends. Some of them proved to be very classy. They were thrilled to be having such a great year, and I was happy for them. The University of Oklahoma has had a lot of really great years, and I know how much fun it is to be a fan when things are going your way. I also know that you don’t have to step on others to enjoy that feeling.
One incident near the end of November last year really showed which fans had class and which ones didn’t. Oklahoma State’s women’s basketball team lost two coaches in a plane crash. The crash followed 10 years after another which took the lives of 10 members of the men’s basketball team. Every Sooner fan I know reached out online to offer condolences and support to Cowboy fans.
The good will was reciprocated by some Cowboy fans as OSU beat OU for the first time in nine years and secured their first conference football championship since 1948. Losing a Bedlam game is never fun, but it was nice to celebrate the season with the OSU fans who refrained from being rude and obnoxious. I still think they deserved a shot at the National Championship rather than the SEC rematch that undoubtedly helped prompt the new playoff system.
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Tavia worked as a naturalist and recreation specialist at an Oklahoma lake during her college years. She enjoys using what she learned as an outdoor educator in her work with children today.