A Lesson in Sportsmanship for the Alabamian

Every weekend our kids hear a pep talk from their coaches about the importance of playing their best, working as a team, and demonstrating class in victory and defeat. But after all our lectures about sportsmanship and how we should celebrate excellence in competition, do we parents really have the will to live the values? Specifically, do we have enough pigskin to practice what we preach during the BCS bowl game?

We’ve all got friends who are for Team X and “anybody who plays against Team X.” It’s mostly in fun, but there is a contingent of fans who cross the line into being jerks.  Last year there seemed to be an uptick in orange shirts emblazoned with white “T”‘s – and I don’t mean Tennessee – and this year I can’t believe that we have a contingent of true Oregon ducks who have just been flying under the radar until now.

Online you’ll find plenty of nasty fans who could almost spoil the fun for all of us. Happily, based on sports talk radio (which I occasionally listen to just to hear the testosterone version of PMS, or Pregame Mouth-off Syndrome), it appears that most folks are actually pleased that our state can boast back-to-back Heisman winners and the possibility of two back-to-back BCS championships.

This seems healthy and reasonable. After all, a win by Auburn doesn’t in any way diminish Alabama’s formidable accomplishments. Alabamians revere playing/coaching families like the Mannings, Dooleys, Bowdens and Bartows. Why not offer similar admiration for these sporting accomplishments that reflect positively on our state? Let’s face it, we could use the good press.

So here’s my position. Even if you can’t bring yourself to cheer FOR your rivals, you shouldn’t cheer AGAINST them when a victory doesn’t impact your team. You can be a quiet but good sport. It’s not like you have to sing their fight song or yell their battle cry or even wear their colors. That is, unless you lose a bet, and then you should demonstrate your good sportsmanship and pay up.

Confession: Last year during the BCS game I remarked that I thought “Colt McCoy” was a great name for a cowboy or hero in a Western novel, and just that smidgen of admiration was enough to disgust my husband into moving his pacing, hollering self clear across the room for the rest of the game.