On Being a Fan…

(*Just a heads up: this isn’t my usual subject matter. But I feel compelled to state my feelings on this. And if you don’t give a hoot about football, carry on with your day…)

So here it is: I love the Gators.

Now that being said, I will freely admit that I could not hold my own in a conversation about the personnel and X’s and O’s of this current Gator football team. I love the Gators nonetheless.

There is, however, one area of football on which I consider myself to be an expert.

That is being a fan.

I spent 15 years being a professional fan. I’ve been a fan of some great teams, and I’ve been a fan of some God-awful teams. And no matter what, I loved those teams. I hated to see them lose, no doubt about it. But I haven’t ever one time in my entire career BOOED my own team.

Not once. Ever.

And that’s because I was a true fan.

I have a different perspective on these matters than most. And probably I will be ridiculed for that perspective somehow. But that’s irrelevant. The point is this: people seem to forget about a few things when they watch football from their couches and stadium seats. I just want peeps to remember a few things when they feel the urge to spew nasty from their mouths and keyboards…

First of all, these people you are watching are actual PEOPLE. They are people with feelings and families. They are sons and brothers and husbands and grandsons and fathers and friends. They are human beings doing a job, coaches and players alike. They are not fictional characters whose salaries you pay from your personal checking account. They do not, contrary to popular belief, work for you. And somebody hurts for them when you say ugly things about them.

Number two: College kids are, in fact, just that–KIDS. Don’t be so hard on them. They want to win. They want to win more than you can even imagine. They have competitive hearts. They work hard at a job–harder, even, than a lot of adults do at their jobs. They do this very hard job while going to school full time. And they love it. They are proud of it. It is their dream come true. And I can promise you that when things are bad, no one, and I mean no one, is more disappointed than they are. Period.

Number three: No one–I repeat–NO ONE knows what goes on in the locker room, meeting rooms or offices besides the people in them.

Number four: Generally speaking, what you think (and ridicule) about the way a player executes any particular play means absolutely nothing if you do not know the assignments of each player on the field (which you don’t…see #3 above).

Number five: You could not do this job better than the people doing it. That is a fact. No one comes to your job and berates you for having a bad day. No one comes to your job and endlessly tells you how much better he could do it. No one demands that you be fired for trying your hardest. Every. Single. Week. Think about how much that would suck for you.

What I’m trying to say is that if you claim to love a team, then love it in all kinds of weather. No matter what. Support that team, its coaches, its players and its staff. Good times and bad. Cheer hard. Every week. Show up for your team and be proud of their effort. I can assure you that they want wins far more than you do. And their livelihoods depend on it, yours don’t.

It’s football, people. It is a game, indeed. Keep that in perspective. Redirect the anger and rage to something that actually warrants it like children’s cancer or world hunger or war.

In the words of Coach Muschamp, “some of our fans need to get a grip”.

I couldn’t agree more.

Go Gators!