So over the past few days I have to admit I've fallen victim to some trolling. There have been a few instances on the web where UGA fans are being bashed by Auburn fans for the way they acted Saturday night, and this has led to blanket statements that we are a terrible fanbase?
@WarBlogle has mentioned this in numerous tweets garnering reaction.
Here's the reddit article that floated around about mistreatment at the game Saturday. This is an instance that sucks if true. At the same time I guarantee this experience has been shared potentially by some fans who have ventured into other SEC schools including Auburn as well.
Then there was the AU Rivals article which labeled Mark Richt as the leader of a "nasty" and "hoodlum" program which has absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the article or its intent. I'm sure Mark Richt is widely held as a hoodlum leader in college football circles.
These statements to a point could not be more correct. The University of Georgia has some of the worst football fans in the conference. The problem is every single school has some of the worst college football fans in the conference. We all utilize the phrase "every school has bad fans", the problem comes when you project this across an entire fanbase.
That being said I'm going to offer a few pointers when trying to navigate opposing fans:
1) Have some friends from the opposing university. If all you see of a fanbase is a bunch of drunk people who are solely there for a football game and want your team to lose, yeah you'll probably leave with some bad impressions from time to time.
I have a TON of Auburn friends. Those from Atlanta that grew up with me and attended there, I've met in Atlanta, or met at tailgates through friends. I lived with three of them in Atlanta for four years. I got to see them win a national championship. I told them great job. My best man in my wedding was an Auburn man. When I go to Auburn, they gladly host me at their tailgate and for years now I've hosted them with welcome arms. The same held true this past Saturday. When you have a life outside of the football stadium with people, it seems to make what happens on Saturday a little less important. At the end of the day you're probably not going to be friends with someone who has the sole purpose of bashing you because you elected to attend a chosen university. If you asked any of my Auburn friends, they'd tell you I certainly do love UGA football but it's not the core of who I am. I sure other Auburn fans could say the same about their UGA friends who shared a beer with them Saturday.
|It's ok to have a beer and be friends with the opposing team.|
2) Learn to ignore idiots. Don't base your opinion solely on bad apples who make comments to you in a football stadium. Here is a theory: grown people who bark at other grown people are idiots. Some will call me soft for that statement. Another theory, any school you go to is going to have some drunken idiot who is going to verbally chastise you before or after a football game. Here is my strategy... Ignore them. Don't give them the satisfaction of knowing they got under your skin. If a grown man barked at me while I was walking out the stadium I would probably just in my mind say "that's dumb" and continue walking. Returning the favor serves no good. Same way if we had lost 34-7 and an Auburn fan told me "Georgia is awful" to my face I'd probably keep on walking because my life revolves around more than a bunch of 18 year olds who wear the color of my university. I will tell you I've probably gotten madder at UGA fans than opposing fans over my time. Chances are if one person is being an idiot in a section, those around him are going to get annoyed too and help police it.
For every I met an idiot UGA fan, I bet if you reached out you'd find people who met a really nice one. I told every Auburn fan on my way into Sanford "good luck today". At the end of the day because of whatever life circumstance we've encountered we elect to root for a certain team. I even wrote a nice piece about my experience at Clemson last year: found here.
3) Don't let an pre-meditated notion affect your overall opinion of a fanbase in general, especially if it comes in a negative situation. I understand Auburn lost. I understand that's going to cause UGA fans to be a bit more over the top and excited. There have been plenty of times I've walked down those Sanford Stadium ramps and been cheered against by opposing fans. Learn to ignore things and walk into or out of a stadium with the ability to turn the other cheek. Yes you shouldn't have to, but it's going to happen regardless of where you are. Yes some bad fans may further a negative notion you have about a school, but don't ignore those that give a positive reflection.
Any time you mix alcohol, intense passion for a football team, and either an excited or disappointed result stemming from those things you're going to have lots of emotion. Georgia and Auburn both have great fans, and both have awful fans. At my tailgate Saturday I wish I had a picture of the mixed colors. Everyone was buddied up, having a great time, because we all love Saturdays in the fall and what they stand for. They've been a part of our varied histories for so many different reasons.
I'm sorry for any Auburn fan that had a bad experience on Saturday and apologize for UGA fans as a whole if that was your case. I've had a great time in Athens and I've had a great time in Auburn. I do take offense to making the blanket norm that UGA is an awful fanbase. It makes me mad when my school does it to other people, and it makes me mad when other people do it to me. I've been going to UGA games since I was a little guy with my dad and attending the University only made me grow to love the city and team more. Some people are fans of a football team and some are fans of a university. It's a fact of life. Just don't stoop to the level of giving into these people and fueling the fire. Georgia and Auburn is my favorite game of the year to me because of everything it holds: good friends, good times, and good football tucked in two lovely cities with a ton on the line for each. Learn to focus on these things and life will be a good bit better for all of us. Police fans of your team being an idiot. Crack a beer with an opposing fan. We'll all be a lot better off if we do.
Aside from the dumb comments we all make about schools, Auburn is a great program. I look forward to the game every year. Hopefully these perspectives can change for certain individuals over time. Looking forward to sharing some beers next fall in Auburn.