Around here, there’s a rabid sort of sportsmanship. While I’m a fan of the dominant team (as if you couldn’t tell by how my blog looks!), I’m not a fan of the near-racism levels of hatred that pour out during football season. Yes, we have rivals to the north. But what seems to reduce otherwise rational people into sputtering fools is…just a game.

Every year, as I start to revel in the cool air that comes in at the same time as the college kickoffs, as I dust off the scarlet and gray sweatshirts, and as we arrange our Saturdays around making sure we can watch or listen to The Game, I inevitably come across evidence that it’s not just a game to some of my fellow fans. And sometimes, I’m reminded of just how cruel we humans can be to each other over something silly.

For example, one of my friend’s sons was asked to leave a classroom – by the teacher – because he was wearing the rival team’s colors during the week before the Big Game. “Oh, the teacher was joking,” to which I give my friend due credit for being pretty upset (which is a mild description). At another friend’s daughter’s school – did I mention it’s a Catholic school, where the kids wear uniforms? – they have something like three days a year when they can wear non-uniform clothes. One of those times is during the week before the Big Game, if, the principal said, they wear scarlet and gray. As I recall, my friend made her daughter wear her uniform that day, even though they’re as much fans of The Team as we are. And again, due credit to her.

And these little ditties don’t even scrape the surface of injustices done to those adults in the area…what about the smashed windows in cars back when I was in college – because they had Up North license plates? (Never mind that they could have been a student’s; never mind that they could have been a fellow fan; never mind anything logical, I know.) And then there’s the harassment and rude comments you can get for just wearing another team’s logo – and especially if we’re playing whatever team you happen to be wearing.

I’m told it’s worse here in central Buckeyeland than it is anywhere else in the country. I’m told other fans hate us all over the world.

Well, now. I don’t know that I can blame them, given the track record here in the area.

It frustrates me on the same level as the anti-family attitude that’s so prevalent in society does. It makes me grind my teeth just the way hearing about the noose in a tree at a campus in Maryland did (and then finding out it could have been a copycat thing). I shake my head, and I wonder what is wrong with us.

After thinking about it, I think the same thing’s wrong with us now that was wrong with us back when we hung an innocent man from a cross. We’re still human, and we’re still on the wrong track when left to our own devices. But there’s hope, and what hope it is!

So in the midst of badly behaved fans and rolling my eyes at levels of team spirit that make Communism look mild (yes, I’m exaggerating a bit), I’m going to offer a few prayers and focus on keeping myself from being one of “those fans.”

(And don’t be thinking I’m all perfect in this discussion. I’ve had plenty of my own badly behaved moments in the last nine or ten years since I first became a college student and fan(atic?). I’m not writing this to make myself sound perfect. I’m writing it because it’s on my mind.)