Ten Foot Mailbag: For Whom Should An Ex-PSU Fan Root?
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By Tim Baffoe-
(CBS) You waited and waited and waited, and finally it came back Thursday night. And you who were so excited for a Bears preseason football game got exactly what you deserved. First, there was no Cutler, Forte, Peppers, or Urlacher. That made me very happy, as I would just assume have stars like that not play a single snap in the preseason because the risk of injury is not worth “getting used to game play.”
Disagree? Ask pants-crapped Eagles fans about Mike Vick, who will likely be fine, or Chargers fans about Ryan Mathews, who after one mere snap will not be fine… at least not for about a month-and-a-half.
Then the Bears got embarrassed. I enjoyed the hell out of that because I hate preseason football, and floating on my inflatable raft of schadenfreude with a drink in my hand in a pool of what I knew was exploding Bear fan panic was just absolutely delightful. A Bears victory actually would have bothered me due to its inevitable residual misconceptions.
That game meant very little, okay? Yes, there are issues with the offensive line. I’m sure that will be focused heavily on by Mike Tice and Co. before Week 1. Calm down. In fact, if you’re the panicky fan type, I advise you to avoid preseason football altogether. The players themselves, to a man, would tell you the same. You’ll thank me later.
On to your questions. All emails and tweets are unedited.
How is the “culture” of college football different from the “culture” of NFL? Didn’t fans support GB after Chmura? #TFMB–@TSpeeps
There certainly are similarities between pro and college sports fandoms. All fans tend to be very loyal to their teams even in the face of serious turmoil like you mentioned above.
Sports in all forms are an opiate, and asking someone to be rational when it comes to consuming any opiate is often asking the impossible. “Hey, buddy, don’t get too into that crack you’re smoking, okay?” Teaching high school, I’m all too familiar with some very pathetic people—mostly non-parents—that put a very unhealthy amount of stock into the play of children.
The big difference between pro and college cultures, though, is college fans often have a much more blind loyalty because of at least one of the following factors:
- The college is located not very close to a major city. It’s isolated geographically, if not psychologically and ideologically as well. This creates a more uncompromising fanbase because it’s all many fan have—the “townie syndrome,” as it were.
- The fans are alumni. If the school is fallible, if not downright completely corrupted, the grads believe that’s somehow a reflection on them, and that just cannot be. It’s the same way a child will defend a parent or vice versa even in the face of overwhelming evidence of guilt. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that “alma mater” translates to “nourishing mother.”
- College sports has much more of a propaganda machine toward fanbases. Fights songs, seating sections filled specifically with impressionable students, pep rallies, a misconception that fans really are a part of the team, etc. Students and alumni are expected to attend as many games as possible, tailgate, join booster clubs, etc. It’s very tribal. Pro teams use these things as well, but nowhere near to the extent schools do, and pro fanbases have a smaller percentage that buys into that extra stuff.
In a case like Chmura’s, firstly he was found not guilty of criminal charges. Wrong as what he did was, I also recall many Chicagoans defending the guy at the time after seeing what that babysitter looked like. As far as Packer fans defending him—and really the Packer “culture” in general—the Packers are very much like a college team (that’s not a talent joke, ye Bear fan who spreads those lame anti-Packer memes around social media every damn year.)
Green Bay has about 300,000 people, which isn’t tiny, but certainly is not big (138th on the US population list as of the 2010 Census). It’s also stuck in northern Wisconsin away from normal civilization. Mix in all the history and tradition mumbo jumbo that fans get fed, and it’s a place ripe for blind loyalty. I’d like to think in places like New York and Chicago, even though there are many insane and delusional fans (Bears Postgame with Doug and OB on The Score and really any moment on WFAN in New York show this), have more people that are able to divorce themselves from sports teams being the end-all be-all.
So this is weird, right? Friend hooks up with a chick last week, next day, HER MOM friends him on FB. He’s arguing it’s not strange…–@Cyrus_T_Virus
It’s not strange at all so long as your friend doesn’t mind rabbit stew.
If your friend has not recently been lobotomized, all contact with the chick must immediately cease. I don’t care what she looks like or her measurements or if she’s the heiress to a Fortune 500 company. Your friend needs to sever all ties with her, and based on the fact that this person immediately tells her mother about guys she hooks up with, he’ll probably need to legally change his name.
I’m not a big fan of firearms, but he may also want to amass a cache of weapons in his home for the inevitable stalking that will likely turn dangerous. A crossbow would be pretty effective but also totally cool to hit the chick with as she runs screaming through his front door clutching a painting of him done in her own blood on the menu from the bar they met at.
The mother must also be destroyed. Everybody sort of read Beowulf in high school, right? Remember how it wasn’t Grendel that was so bad as it was Grendel’s mother. No? Anybody?
There’s a good chance, too, that there will be a hiding place for all the mother’s eggs, as mating season has come and gone. Your friend must find this place and destroy the egg sack, preferably with fire. No matter what, he must not allow the spread of their kind, even if he has to give up his own life for sake of us all.
Will your twitter activity decrease during the school year? #TFMB—@CMroczka
During school hours, very much so. At night you likely see little change for the most part. Monday through Friday nights I’m usually working at the restaurant, and between deliveries I’m pretty much going back and forth between my phone and a TV, trying my best to drown out the rest of the restaurant environment.
I am asking for advise as to who I should follow as my 2nd favorite college football team to replace Penn St. This fall My #1 team is ND. I hope you can help me in this dilemma. Thanks—Bob McSweeney
Well, as a fellow Fighting Irish fan I know then that you’re likely an insufferable blowhard that deserves to be waterboarded. You root for a team that rests on its laurels and has done nothing of significance in 25 years. This would line you up to be an ideal fan of a few teams.
If you can get used to recruiting classes that aren’t as great as some of the big dogs in its conference, maybe the Fighting Illini are right for you. You get a few pretty good players from the Chicago Public Schools every year and somehow a kid from Texas, and you’ll see a mediocre bowl game annually.
Iowa City is a fun place for a game, and Iowans are too polite to let an underperforming program get them down. Hawkeye feel-good mediocrity could soothe your football soul.
A longer commute, if you don’t mind, but definitely better looking women might entice you to be a Georgia Bulldogs fan. Fans in Athens also consider themselves to be a bit more refined than the rest of the SEC, so that is prime for a Domer like you.
It all boils down to what type of massive dbag you want to be, since really all college football fans are massive dbags. If you’re just looking to have a casual “safety school” after Notre Dame inevitably craps the bed, go peruse various fanbases’ internet message boards and see which one tends to have the least misspellings and death threats. (Tip: this will be a very painful task.)
Despite your articulated disinterest, have you watched any of the Olympics? #TFMB—@David_Spellman
Sparingly. It’s always on at the restaurant, so I’ll check the Games out just because they’re fairly unavoidable and because I enjoy staring at a TV during the downtime before and after the dinner rush. Basketball has received most of my attention just because it’s an actual sport that’s interesting with people whose names I know.
The Olympics do provide for great joke fodder, and that’s what I use Twitter for mostly (and often unsuccessfully). NBC’s fumbling of their coverage makes it all a painfully enjoyable watch as far as humor is concerned.
I still don’t get the allure of it all or why I’m supposed to root for these athletes for whom three years prior I wasn’t asked to have any concern. At least it’s just about finally over, and everyone can go back to not forcing themselves to pretend that they care about handball or synchronized swim dancing or abused teenage girls crying after jumping on furniture.
Thanks for emailing, tweeting, and reading. If your question did not get answered this time, that does not necessarily mean I am ignoring it. It may be saved for the next mailbag. Hopefully you’re a slightly better person now than you were ten minutes ago. If not, your loss.
Want your questions answered in a future Mailbag? Email them to firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet them with the hashtag #TFMB. No question, sports or otherwise, is off limits (with certain logistical exceptions, e.g. lots of naughty words or you type in Portuguese or you solicit my death). If you email, please include a signature.
Tim Baffoe attended the University of Iowa and Governors State University and began blogging at The Score after winning the 2011 Pepsi Max Score Search. He enjoys writing things about stuff, but not so much stuff about things. When not writing for 670TheScore.com, Tim corrupts America’s youth as a high school English teacher and provides a great service to his South Side community delivering pizzas (please tip him and his colleagues well). You can follow Tim’s inappropriate brain droppings on Twitter @Ten_Foot_Midget , but please don’t follow him in real life. He grew up in Chicago’s Beverly To read more of Tim’s blogs click here.