By Jody Fuller
When did having a difference of opinion transition from being just that to hatred and stupidity? Whether discussing race, politics or college football, there are some issues many Americans simply can’t discuss in a civil manner. Discussions on race can become violent. Just say something negative about Dale Earnhardt and race fans will lose their mind.
Lambasting individuals with opposing views is un-American. It baffles my mind and needs to change. Listening to and tolerating different points of view should be one of the great perks of living in the greatest country on earth. As long as they are expressed respectfully, personal attacks have no place in civil discourse.
People are serious about college football in our state—quite frankly, too serious. Sure, I want Auburn to win every game, but when they lose, I know the sun is still going to rise the next day. A win or a loss will not impact my life in any manner. If we were as passionate about things that really matter—things that impact our lives—perhaps we wouldn’t be competing with other southern states in the “Battle for the Bottom” of things of actual importance: health, education, elected officials, etc.
I wrote a guest column for al.com on the two Alabama football players recently arrested for drug and weapons charges, both of which were eventually dropped. The district attorney’s reason for dropping the charges even made Paul Finebaum’s head spin. Days later, more information was released. I simply wrote about the need for them being held accountable for their actions, specifically the weapons charges.
There weren’t any negative comments when I posted the article to my social media. In fact, most Bama fans were in agreement, while others informed me of the sanctions Coach Saban and the university levied against the two student-athletes, which were quite stringent, I must say. However, when it comes to the comments on al.com, that’s a different story. If you want to read them, I encourage you to first hide the women and children. My mama, a Bama fan, was furious. I expected some backlash because some fans just have too much Bama in them. To be fair, I’m sure the same can be said for some Auburn fans—some.
Some think if you love one team you must instinctively hate the other, which is simply ridiculous. I was born in 1972, six months before the “Punt Bama Punt” game, so my Auburn fandom was off to a good start. Of course, Bama went on to win for the next nine years, which was not easy, as I was the only Auburn fan in my house.
Most folks don’t like fence riders, and make no mistake about it; I’m not a fence rider. I’m Auburn all the way, but why waste hatred on a game? It’s just football and many of these kids were just a signature away from playing for another team—perhaps my team.
I don’t think they should have been kicked off the team, much less sent to prison, where they likely would have become part of the system. I’m sure they are good young men. We all make mistakes. I just wanted them to be held accountable. I’m a military man and believe in good order and discipline and make no apologies for it.
When Auburn players mess up, I want them to be held accountable, too. For some rabid fans, it’s all about football. Believe it or not, I actually care about these young men and their future. I wish them nothing but the best, but I want to see them doing well 20 years down the road—not just on Saturdays in the fall.
Jody Fuller is a comic, speaker, writer and soldier with three tours of duty in Iraq. He is also a lifetime stutterer. He can be reached at email@example.com. For m#re information, visit jodyfuller.com.