We here in the south love our college football. In fact, it would be easy to say that many worship college football. If a pittance of the devotion some give to their team were directed toward more worthy causes, there could be a substantial positive change in this world.
Don’t get me wrong, I love football. I love tailgating, fatty foods, friendly arguments, and the whole game day experience. But I don’t live or die with it. If my team loses, I am pretty much okay twenty minutes afterwards unlike some who can’t recover until a potential perfect season starts again the next year. Maybe that’s the benefit of your team never being very good, I don’t know.
I’ve noticed a disheartening trend among some fans. It happens when one of the players messes up and gets disciplined by the coach or school. All of the sudden, that kid is labelled “bad”… a ne’re-do-well. I have to say that upsets me more than the many losses my team racked up last year.
What many forget is that these are just kids put in a crazy situation that contains spotlights and cameras all pointed at them. When they do something stupid, everyone acts surprised and offended as if they have soiled the hallowed reputation of the university. Of course they are going to do something stupid! They are eighteen year-old boys. If all of my stupidity at that age was laid out on ESPN, I would have had a ton of labels thrown on me also. And my guess is that these superfans have skeletons, as well. Come on, if you are willing to paint your fat, nearly-naked body as an adult, what stupidity did you enter into as an adolescent?
Here is what we need to remember. There is Stupid and there is Wrong – and they are two totally separate things. By stupid, I don’t mean unintelligent.
Portsong’s definition of Stupid – impulsive actions a young man undertakes with no forethought or consideration of consequence. Stupid.
“Hey, stop the car. You see those cows, let’s go cow-tipping?” – Stupid
“You bring your gun, let’s shoot that cow.” – Wrong
Need I list more examples? They are boys! Don’t confuse stupid behavior with bad intent. Stupid and Wrong are totally separate things. You get your belt out for wrong. You take away a privilege for stupid.
There are plenty of gray areas. “You wanna smoke some of this,” blurs the line between stupid experimentation and wrong. But I think you get my point. Just because a kid does something that gets him disciplined by his team or coach, he isn’t a bad kid. He’s just exercising his prerogative to be his age – lights, cameras, and microphones or not. Fans have created this surreal college sports environment where they expect young men to live up to a ten-thousand page code of conduct that they themselves would have torn up and eaten on a dare at their frat party just a few years ago.
Putting expectations like that on an 18 year-old kid is both stupid and wrong.