Saturday, October 02, 2010

Letter to LSU fans

I wrote this earlier in the week after being upset by the boos and earlier departure of "LSU fans" in a close game against West Virginia.

It's hard when you look down from the top of the mountain to realize where you have been. But what if we remember this season in a different (more grateful) context of where we have been:

Remember those seasons before Saban where our team was poorly coached and the great players from Louisiana all played for FSU, Miami, and other SEC schools. Remember the frustrations of having a mediocre team, and grasping tightly to any glimpse of hope and progress, believing this play or young player might be just what we need to turn the game, and maybe the season, around. Remember sitting in your parents bedroom watching the nationally televised games in black and white (for the rest we chose the radio with Jimmy's magical voice). Remember believing we were a team with promise on the verge of busting out. Remember being grateful for the good seasons that were barely less than great. Remember the major upsets and how we stormed the field, and how those upsets changed the expectations for who our Tigers are.

It's exciting to have a program on top, but with it come the weighty expectations to always perform at the highest level. Yet these are just overgrown adolescents with a physical gift.

If you are like me, you remember the first time you realized that our football gods were just a small sample size of students trying to make it on a major college campus. Sure they are revered as the highest form of college student, but when you sit next to them in class you remember that they are no older than you, no less prone to the pressures of life, and no less likely to crack when the pop quiz comes. We want them to be great men, but they are hardly more than teenagers.

I don't write this to give them a pass. I mean to say that the responsibility to make these young men great is with their coaches, their teachers, and their fellow students to help prepare them to make greatness happen under-pressure.

For the rest of this year, remember the football gods of our youth and be grateful for the abundance of gifted athletes we have today. This team may not have the best offense in the nation, but we surely has one of the greatest defenses LSU has seen. So if you are inclined to boo these athletic students, if you regularly ache to leave your seat before our 60 minutes are up, if you give these students anything less than encouragement, send your tickets to Philly and I'll gladly take your place to stand and yell as loud as I can for 60 minutes of hell to anyone who stands in opposition of Death Valley.

T. Rockett.


Laura said...

So impassioned! Well written T.

Christopher said...

You're right that it's a little unfair to try to locate whatever it is that constitutes adult greatness in student-athletes who are "barely more than teenagers", but I don't know if that's the same as calling them "overgrown adolescents with a physical gift." If I were a student-athlete, I might be a little insulted by the later. In either case, I'm not sure it's accurate to say that a 22 or 23-year-old senior is hardly more than a teenager. Certainly, he/she is an adult. An adult with a lot of learning and maturing to do, sure, but still an adult.

I've never really been a huge fan of college football. I can get into it. I can enjoy it. I like the historical aspects of it. But it's not something I look to to witness (always fleeting) greatness. Baseball seems better-equipped for that to me. A perfect game or a no hitter is greatness. Beyond the sports page, and in the cultural tradition of your SEC, "The Sound and The Fury" is greatness.