On an early morning walk this week, I glimpsed the first promise of fall.
Dew clung to the summer-brown grasses and lacy fog hugged the river bottoms, both damp reminders of a late night thunderstorm. As I marched briskly along the fence rows, something from above caught my eye. I stopped to watch as a single yellow leaf, released from its home high atop a poplar tree, floated gracefully on the morning breeze and settled in the meadow below. Excitement coursed through my veins as I instantly began to count—less than two weeks until college football begins!
enjoy each of the four seasons (as well as an occasional night in a
Four Seasons), but I must confess that I love autumn best. I have been
waiting for the kick off of college football since January 7, when the
LSU Tigers rolled over the Ohio State Buckeyes to claim the national
But something’s been bothering me, and I’ve got to get it off my chest.
Last year’s topsy-turvy season was one of the most exciting on record,
and I was lucky enough to see more than a dozen games in person. I
experienced first hand some of the finest traditions and biggest
rivalries in college football, but I also witnessed some truly
horrifying fan behavior. I saw it all, from cursing and name calling to
drunkenness and fighting.
this caused me to do a little soul searching. I’ve never been to a game
drunk, and I’ve certainly never been escorted out in handcuffs, but I’m
not exactly innocent either. I’ve booed my share of referees and argued
vociferously with fellow fans. I dare say that if instant replay were
available, I’d be ashamed of some of the things I’ve said and done.
I’m not the only one who sees the problem. Virginia Tech has instituted a sportsmanship awareness program called Hokies Respect
to remind their fans to behave. Other schools have cracked down on
ill-mannered conduct with a greater police presence and more vigorous
the truth is this—it all begins with a personal commitment to more
diligently observe the rules of civility and sportsmanship. In light of
these reflections, I pledge the following:
1) I will not boo my own team(s). I never have, and I never will.
will not badmouth my own coaches at a ballgame. I don’t promise to
agree with everything they do, but while they’re on the field, leading
my team(s), I will give them my full support.
will respect the players, coaches, and fans of the opposing teams. What
would a football game without worthy opponents? It takes two to tango,
will take special care not to exhibit rude behavior in front of the
game’s youngest fans. Kids love college football too, and they need all
of us to illustrate the principles of good sportsmanship for them.
5) I will do my absolute best to engage only in behavior that I can talk about tomorrow at Sunday School.
Call me Pollyanna if you will, but this season, I pledge to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. E-mail me with your thoughts.