SEC Fans are Actually Capable of Compassion
Sigh---there are times you want to hate on College Football fans for being stupid, not paying attention or acting crudely towards visiting teams. Which I would still argue most of the time isn't wrong.
But then a group like the Georgia Bulldogs fanbase does something that kind of reinforces your faith in your fellow human beings. (something in short supply these days)
First what they are doing this week to honor and pay respects to the coach of their opponents Arkansas State. Red Wolves Head Coach Blake Anderson returned last week after the early summer passing of his wife Wendy---due to Breast Cancer.
A group called "Bulldogs Battling Breast Cancer" decided they'd encourage fans to wear pink in Wendy Anderson's honor.
Welp, it's taken off and not only a small group of fans are doing this---practically the entire campus community has jumped in and taken up the cause. So much so that Saturday's game is being called---A Pink Out....
No, really, it's caught on. It's a thing and gosh dang it, the whole idea is enough to make your eyes well up.
It has always bugged the crap out of me to hear College Football fans talking about hating others, sometimes saying the most vile things you can think of for no other reason than you can. Heck, I've seen and heard Georgia fans do it to teams that they should and do beat while barely breaking a sweat.
College Football and sports...and well, for that matter--life should be about respecting others/opponents. You don't have to like, you don't have to agree with or belittle anyone or any team that isn't yours.
Heck, the folks at Tennessee, maligned for being one of the cruelest and myopic fanbases in the country stepped up when it counted and should be applauded for it.
After hearing the story of an Altamonte Springs, Florida 4th grader who was ridiculed and bullied for wearing an orange t-shirt on College Colors with a hand-made U-T sign on it, Tennessee fans came to his rescue.
This was only the beginning. Over the past week, the Volunteer faithful sent a full-on care package of U-T gear and began selling items with the handmade logo (all profits going to STAMP OUT BULLYING non-profit support agency).
It gets better.
The University announced they'd offer the young man a full scholarship to attend the University in 2032 (year he'd graduate High School) if he meets the academic requirements for entry.
How do you top this?
Being a fan SHOULD be about doing things like this. It SHOULD be about sending a message of support to a wounded opponent not because they're the opposition but because they are a human being suffering or in need. There is nothing here that says Georgia fans will pull for Arkansas State to win this coming Saturday---nor should the Red Wolves expect to. But the fans will respect the opposing coach, the fans will respect the players and everyone will be on the side of supporting a wonderful cause---Breast Cancer Awareness and research.
I should add---Georgia fans stepping up to the plate for an opponent is not a new thing. A couple years ago, a little known Receiver/Kick Returner for Southern University by the name of Devon Gales suffered a paralyzing hit during a game in Stanford Stadium. Gales could not be transported home due to his injuries so what did the Bulldog faithful do??
They stepped up to help the Gales family travel to Athens from Louisiana. Suddenly, the Bulldogs offered to pay for Devon's medical expenses and combined with a few local charities, UGA and their faithful helped a house be built in the Atlanta suburbs to accommodate Gales and his physical needs.
Gales is now an Assistant Coach at a Jackson County (outside Atlanta) high school.
Listen, I know there are fan bases that do all kinds of great things for charities and those in need. We don't always hear about them. Yes, I know full well, my critical comments about fan bases do not speak for an entire fanbase or a University, I get that.
Maybe it just makes me happy to see two differing sides come together. Maybe it's seeing two super, mega large Universities step up for someone who needs some help or has encountered some challenges in life. And maybe it's a sign that we can all respect others instead of the horrific name calling and hating in places like the politicians seem to be trying to get us to do. Maybe it's time to start pointing out the good in people instead of the bad things they do. Respecting our differences should be embraced--not ridiculed, it's what makes us all better people.
And yeah, maybe I'm just being idealistic, but seeing what Georgia fans are doing for Kyle Anderson and Arkansas State combined with the Tennessee outreach for a bullied kid---sure the heck gives me some hope.