North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

December 16, 2013

Danielle Cater: Try to keep sports in perspective

By Danielle Cater
North Jefferson News

COMMENTARY — Unless you’ve had your head stuck in the ground for the past few weeks, you know that there is a lot of talk about college football in this state.

I’m not sure anyone in the world, including Gus Malzahn, could have predicted the turn-around season that the Auburn Tigers have had this year.

Auburn went from being the absolute worst team in the SEC last year, winning no conference games in the season, to playing for the BCS national championship game in Pasadena in January.

SEC football is much more than just a sport in Alabama — it’s a way of life, it’s a religion, it’s a choice. Even if you are only visiting the state for a few weeks, one of the first questions you will answer is, “Are you an Auburn or Alabama fan?” Be careful how you answer, because this decision will haunt you for the rest of your days in this wonderful state.

My family is full of die-hard Alabama fans. My dad watches the football updates all the way in India during the season, and my sister sports her crimson and white every Saturday during the season.

But at the tender of 5, I was introduced to Bo Jackson. I thought he was the best thing since sliced bread, so I quickly became an Auburn fan. I’m sure my streak of rebellion against my parents had something to do with that, but through all 28 years since then, I have pulled for my team. It didn’t matter if we had an awful team like we did last year, or if we went undefeated like we did in 2004. I was happy to pull for my Tigers no matter what the outcome was.

Unlike the smarter fans, I still took bets and ran my mouth through the rough years also. This resulted in my frequent wear of hideous Alabama apparel and having to squeal out the occasional “Roll Tide” due to lost bets. But alas, I never have wavered in my allegiance being for the orange and blue.

Saying all of that, it’s hard to go through a year like last year — when I’m pretty sure I could count the devoted Auburn fans in this city on one hand — to this year when every time I turn around I’m bumping into a tiger shirt. Don’t get me wrong — I’m very happy to know that Auburn does indeed have fans in our local area. But I really wish these guys wouldn’t have been in hiding mode during our bad years. I’ve seen so many people come out and say that they are now Auburn fans, when they couldn’t be found even watching a game last year. I think there is something to be said for devotion to a team.

And although I know that Alabama lost to Auburn a few weeks ago, I hope this doesn’t keep their fans from pulling for the red and white in the Sugar Bowl in January.

Yes, I run my mouth far too much about Auburn football. I say more than I should, and I usually pay for that. But this year, my constant run of the jaws landed me actually winning two bets in which my die-hard Alabama friend will be sipping his sodas from a rather large Auburn cup this entire month, and next Sunday he will be sporting the cutest little blue shirt which says, “I hate Alabama” in large, orange writing.

If you recall, last year I lost a bet in which my wonderful husband required me to wear a bright red shirt that said, “I hate Auburn” in white letters. So his friend is having to pay for his crimes this year.

It doesn’t really matter if you are an Alabama fan or an Auburn fan, just be true to your team. Don’t flip flop when the seasons get too tough or your team starts slipping. You can still yell at your team and coaches through the television every week like I do — just stand by your choice and don’t be a turncoat during the off-season because your team gets picked outside of the top 25. Check out what Auburn did this year when the odds were not in their favor at all.

In the end, I want my team to be the national champions. Keep the crystal football in the state and give me one more shot at my dearly-loved Bama fan friends, but if they lose horribly to FSU, I can say without a doubt that it’s great to be an Auburn Tiger.

Don’t let sports or any other stupid thing stand in the way of having fun with your family. If your friends can’t take the joking about their team, then back off and just think those horrible thoughts in your mind. It will still bring a smile to your face. But really, don’t let something as dumb as sports create a real issue with your friends and family. Sports, just like anything else, is great as long as it is in its proper place.

And if you don’t remember anything else from this column, remember this:

War Eagle!