A few minutes ago I saw an intriguing tweet pop up from Gordon Keith (@GordonKeith – follow him), one of my favorite radio personalities here in Dallas, Texas. You may remember Keith from his, shall we say, awkward interview with Zach Galifianakis, but those of us who live in the DFW Metroplex know him as the co-host of the morning Musers show on 1310 The Ticket.
One of the many qualities that make “the great Gordo” compelling to listen to is his ability to make keen, concise observations about human psychology. I don’t know if he studied this formally in his past, but I find myself nodding in agreement with him often. Whether that makes him right, I don’t know. I just know I agree with him a lot.
And, in general, I agree with a point he made today, although I’m not sure I agree with his specific take on the topic that was being discussed.
Here is the quote, presented in big letters with an oversized photo since this is the Internet:
In general, this makes sense right?
How many people do you know who are still hung up on their college days – whether it’s the partying, or lamenting wasted opportunities, or pining after long-lost loves, or whatever – so much so that it stunts their growth moving forward? I think a lot of us either are this or know someone or many someones who are. When I first read this quote, that is what I immediately thought of, and I agreed completely. At some point our college days, no matter how great, have to become memories that we learn from and remember fondly but not ideals we try to recreate.
Now, allow me to provide some context and expand/reframe the discussion.
Keith said the above quote during a conversation about the jackass Alabama fan who poisoned the famous, beloved Toomer’s Corner oak trees on Auburn’s campus. I was not listening to The Ticket at the time, but our good friend to who runs the @TicketRadio Twitter account filled me in on the details:
Why do people arbitrarily decide to hang on to college, especially when it comes to sports?
Why don’t people root for their elementary school? Or their first job? He was like “Go EDS! Best company ever!”
And here is where I depart from Gordon in this specific discussion, despite agreeing with his overall point.
People don’t “arbitrarily” hang on to college anymore than they arbitrarily choose to marry one person over the myriad other people they meet in their lives or make a host of other decisions and commitments. For some of us, like me, we grow up rooting for one school, then go there, and spend the rest of our lives rooting for them. Sure, it’s arbitrary in the sense that if my parents had different jobs I might not have ended up an IU fan, but that’s what happened, just like many things would be different if the circumstances of our lives were altered. So to say it’s arbitrary I don’t think is correct.
It also is not arbitrary that we get caught up in college sports over elementary school sports or our first job. We cheer for college sports teams to feel a sense of community and belonging, to be part of something bigger than ourselves. And obviously the support infrastructure of a college athletics program is much bigger and more publicized, and therefore more attractive from a community standpoint, than say an elementary school. And isn’t this an inherent trait of humans? Don’t we naturally seek to belong? Isn’t that, in essence, what a marriage and having a family is about? I don’t want to equate the two, but there are some connections between the underlying motivations that make us seek out a partner and the motivations that keep us fervently cheering for our favorite teams year after year after year.
I don’t know if I’m explaining this right. I sense that my explanation is incomplete or obtuse, but I have to write this quickly so I’m hoping one of you can help me out in the comment section.
Ultimately, as to the Auburn-Alabama story, I think the guy who poisoned the trees is a complete piece of crap. Even in the most heated rivalry, there is no place for that. Sportsmanship should always be present in any sports rivalry, no matter how nasty it gets. But I don’t think the idiotic actions of one rogue dipshit should make us question whether having strong college sports allegiances is worthwhile or if they. Holding onto that is not what will make or break a successful life. It’s holding onto college in general that will. For many of us, sports serve as the long-term connection to the universities where we spent the most formative years of our youth. There is nothing wrong with that all. But like everything else, moderation and perspective are the keys. It’s too bad the ass clown tree poisoner had neither.
As for Keith’s quote, to bring it all full circle as I close this post, whether you agree or disagree I think it’s thought-provoking, hence why I shared it. As you know, I consider my opinions on topics to merely serve as conversation starters, not as edicts for what is right or wrong. Please share your opinions on this. I’m curious to see what you think of Keith’s quote in general and the over-arching debate about whether college sports fans are too fervent about supporting their schools. The comment section awaits.