I’m a Sooner (University of Oklahoma) fan living in SEC country.
Prior to my move to the Bluff City to join VIA, I called Edmond, Oklahoma home. That’s Sooner country. From my house, I could be on Barry Switzer’s door step in 25 minutes. He would have welcomed me, a stranger, and told me all the great stories from the glory days. Sooner radio, Sooner fan sites, Sooner friends, and Sooner neighbors … I was immersed in Sooner football and it was glorious. Then I moved to Memphis, where a 4-8 SEC team is still considered a top program.
My introduction to obnoxious, well intending, SEC fans who are sincerely trying to change my allegiance, make me think about how one chooses a team, why it’s important to “cheer for laundry,” and how a person’s team affiliation can make me question their character as an individual.
You can understand that as a child growing up in Tulsa, Sooner football was life for me and my dad. Watching Coach Switzer roam the sidelines with guys like Jamelle Holieway, Mike Gaddis, and Keith Jackson running all over the Big 8 (yes, there used to be a Big 8) are some of my fondest memories.
True fandom isn’t casual. Beware of the Alabama Crimson Tide that can’t tell you about the Gene Stallings era or doesn’t sigh at the sound of Franchione’s name. This should tell you all you need to know about their front-runner-mentality.
I’ve engrained in my boys the importance of “cheering for laundry,” meaning that players come and go, but we will cheer for our teams regardless (I’m looking at you, Kevin Durant). Having players commit to “your” team and essentially choosing you (even though you have nothing to do with this equation) brings that heart-felt connection that would forgive most sins. Which is why, to the chagrin of everyone in Memphis, I will always be a Russell Westbrook fan. That’s my guy!
Speaking of the NBA, I cannot fathom cheering for any team other than the Thunder – no offense to the Grizzlies whose home arena I peer at through my Beale Street window as I write this. You won’t see me and my boys wearing a Golden State jersey. Apologies to all the new Golden State and Cleveland Cavalier fans — surely you could understand my skepticism in your “die-hard” fandom when you think Run TMC sang
“Christmas in Hollis” and Larry Nance broadcasts the Masters every year. You may as well keep those tags on the new Steph Curry jersey you bought, because you can always return it for next year’s MVP.
Can you tell I feel strongly about this? In summary, regardless of who you pull for just make sure you’re a true fan, then we can be friends.