Yelling at College Kids

We’re in the middle of the College Football Playoff, which can only mean one thing: an outbreak of SGAAYACK Disorder. You have to see this:

(Warning: language. The harshest language is bleeped out, but it doesn’t leave much to the imagination.)

That hits a little too close to home. Realizing that I, too, have experienced “mood swings based on the actions of strangers who can’t even legally drink” makes me question aspects of my sports fandom.

And perhaps this questioning isn’t a bad thing.

Earlier this year, in what seemed like a near-certain Michigan win, Wolverines punter Blake O’Neill made a horrible mistake on the final play of the game, which resulted in a Michigan State victory.

As one who has cheered for two Michigan rivals1 my whole life, I’ll admit that I was initially pretty happy. But then it got ugly. The darkest corners of the Twitterverse reared their heads, telling O’Neill to kill himself in gruesome fashion.

The thing is, O’Neill had a fantastic game for the first 59:50, including an 80-yard punt. And then he made one ugly mistake. In front of 109,901 fans. And millions others watching live. And many others seeing the inevitable GIFs of the botched punt.

I make mistakes all the time. Mercifully, others aren’t around to see most of them or turn them into GIFs.2

***

The eyes of millions of football fans will be on a bunch of 18- to 22-year-olds from Clemson and Alabama on January 11. I do not envy the pressure they will face.

Having seen the ugliness of SGAAYACK, I will be checking out the game but also checking my own emotions. Football is fun, but my life shouldn’t be affected by a game played by strangers who aren’t old enough to drink.3

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The cover image from Flickr user Rhett Maxwell can be found here.

  1. Two teams that got killed on New Year’s Day…
  2. It’s sort of like driving a car with other passengers. I both feel more pressure when others are around, which can contribute to mistakes. I also actually remember my mistakes because others are there to notice them.
  3. Admittedly, I have often said that one of the beautiful things about being a sports fan is that you can experience the full range of human emotions with very few actual consequences. It’s like life practice. Still, my yelling at a TV screen because of the actions of college kids who are incomprehensibly better at a sport than I ever was isn’t cool.

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