Friday, November 18, 2016

Clean Old-Fashioned Hate

Let's go on a mental journey. There are two life-long friends. One is a Georgia Bulldogs fan, the other roots for Georgia Tech. This year neither team has been exceptional. Both are flawed. Still, the Georgia fan has many reasons to root for his Bulldogs: the decades of excellence, Heisman Trophy winners, venerable head coach Vince Dooley's lifelong commitment to education, beloved long time head coach Mark Richt's care of his players, new coach Kirby Smart turning things around, Chubb, Michel, McKenzie, Eason, Rodrigo, world-class Sanford Stadium, the new indoor facility rising above renovated Stegemann Coliseum, top-ranked tennis, gymnastics, and baseball teams. The fact that Georgia fans greatly outnumber Tech fans is not even a factor. Neither is the fact that Georgia's facilities and programs and uniforms have long been superior to Tech's.

The Georgia fan is a sports nut. He knows what's going on in the world of college football: who's hot and who's not. He knows Georgia's place in the college football pantheon.

Tech fans comprise less than 2% of the state's fan base. Even though the Tech fan is passionate and outspoken about the Jackets, the Georgia fan loves him like a brother.

The Tech fan only hangs around other Tech fans. He only knows what's going on with Tech athletics. He heard Georgia is having a down year in the SEC. Like him, most Tech fans are convinced that beating Georgia this year is a fate accompli. Forget about last year, over the overall head to head record. Tech fans are looking past Georgia to a bowl game, and a return to ACC dominance in 2017 - probably a top ten team and probably a berth in the playoff. Despite a so so season, losing bad to North Carolina and Clemson and Duke, the victories over Boston College and Georgia Southern and Virginia Tech have the fan convinced that the Jackets can beat Georgia this year. He casts a blind eye to the porous defense, weak offensive line, unproductive running back core, and Justin Thomas' injuries.

The Bulldog fan has several rivals and concerns: Tennessee. Florida. Auburn. Only at the end of the season does his focus turn to Tech. The Bulldog fan still considers the Tech fan to be a friend, even though his friend doesn't like the Dawgs.

Then Georgia beats Tech. The Jacket fans, whose whole world revolves around Tech, are devastated. There were a few bad calls by the refs, and several hard hits by the Georgia defense. Jacket fans, many who didn't go to the game or even watch on TV, take to the streets in protest. Goalposts come down. Hedges are torn apart. Our Tech fan is heartbroken and mad. What will he tell his son?

In his pain, the Tech determines the cause. Who to blame. It's the Georgia fan's fault. In the Tech fan's mind, the Georgia fan rooted for the Dawgs for just one reason: to make the Tech fan's life miserable. Throw all those other seemingly valid reasons out the window. The only acceptable way the Georgia fan can mend his relationship with the Tech fan is to meet the following demands: quit rooting for Georgia and start rooting not only for the Tech football team, but also basketball, women's basketball, softball, volleyball, and soccer (despite the fact that Tech does not field a soccer team. And don't call it soccer - it's futball).

The Georgia fan must also contribute financially to these Tech programs and attend games, always rooting for Tech - even against UGA. He must trade his bulldog spots for yellow jacket stripes. The Georgia fan's past beliefs, thoughts, behaviors, and identity are no longer valid. Only the Tech fan's beliefs and identity are important.

Not only that, but the Tech fan has decided that fans of every college football team must do the same thing. It is unacceptable for fans to not root for Georgia Tech. Doesn't matter what the rules of football are. Tech must be allowed to win every game. In the Tech fan's mind these are acceptable thoughts and behaviors, since it's his identity that's important. Good clean old-fashioned hate, indeed.

Back to reality. Is this not utterly preposterous? How can a college educated adult come to think the entire world must adhere to their way of thinking? Is it just their devastation and grief talking to them?

All too often I spend all day busy in my little work world. Hard to know what else is going on in my company, much less the world around me. Social media and news networks feed me information only from those I've chosen to follow. Everything with the same viewpoint, regardless of how far detached from reality it may be. Journalism has strayed from reporting the truth into shady areas of opinion and agenda. Even many Christian viewpoints can't be trusted. Such is the world we live in today.

I leave work and spend the evening at home. Tons of stuff to do there: laundry and dishes and housework and yardwork and errands and things the kids need. Socializing and discussions and conversations with friends and acquaintances and strangers are becoming increasingly infrequent, despite the Biblical admonition to gather together for corporate worship. I'm not surrounding myself with wise counsel. Iron may sharpen iron, but apart from contact with the world around me, my view of the world around me grows dull, insular, and out of touch. I'm becoming that Tech fan.

What's going on in our country bothers me. I'm filling my cheerful little sports-related blog with the same crap clogging other social media. Happens every time - right when a few spot on posts garner hundreds and thousands of new readers, I follow up with depressing content. My New Year's resolution: more cat videos.

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