Show Us Some Respect
Last week, I decided to do a little survey in one of my classes regarding student support of Georgia State athletics.
It wasn’t scientific by any means — my sample size of around 50 in this small classroom was much too low to accurately represent Georgia State’s entire student body of more than 32,000 students.
In fact, all I did for this survey was draw up two columns side-by-side in one of my black Mead catchall notepads — literally dividing students along an issue I’ve long found puzzling at a major research university like ours.
Further, in any other setting but this one, what some of these students were wearing would undoubtedly be acceptable: a University of Georgia t-shirt here, an Alabama football cap over there.
So I marked a tally for each non-Georgia State piece of sports paraphernalia in view on one side, keeping special note of everyone else wearing home gear.
In the end, the final numbers came down to this: the nays had it. At a ratio of 2:1, those brandishing non-Georgia State clothing outnumbered their university counterparts.
However, I can’t say my results were that surprising.
No matter that Georgia State’s football program has advanced at a tremendous pace since its inception just a few years ago, joining the ranks of the likes of Georgia Tech and UGA as a Football Bowl Subdivision team, the NCAA’s highest ranking, or the fact that Georgia State’s Men’s Basketball team set all sorts of university records last year, arguably rivaling the best schools in our conference for a time.
Nope, to some people, especially the ones that have grown up with schools like UGA or Alabama as a backdrop to their lives, Georgia State may never be “home” in the sense that it will have their full support, no matter if its their alma matter.
And that’s a shame.
Sure, Georgia State’s football program isn’t the same kind of recruitment tool like they have at UGA or Alabama — not yet, at least — but that’s not license to rub that fact in to the nearly 32,000 students that go here.
Maybe it doesn’t seem like it, but each time you wear another school’s branded clothing, you’re pissing on everyone else that pays to go to school here.
In effect, you’re saying that the other school is better than we are, that you’ll pay to wear their stuff but not ours and that, paired head to head, you’d choose them over us.
It’s like rubbing alcohol into a wound.
Imagine the roles were reversed and you had the balls to wear Georgia State gear to class at some other major university. No, really — imagine the deep, hateful stares you would inevitably get from those seated around you.
Imagine the taunting and snickering directed at you for daring to wear that garbage on campus.
Picture it in your mind — because I wish it would happen here.
Sadly, we don’t yet have a culture that reflects intense pride and community in regards to these things.
After all, it’s pretty hard to root for football team that up until this last week, halfway through the season, was winless.
So bad, in fact, just two weeks ago Georgia State Athletics had to literally throw money at students to attend the football game — and even that didn’t even work all that great.
Less than 10,000 people showed up for that game. 9531, to be exact, or just over 50 more people than the game two weeks before.
A joke, both for the students and Athletics, to be certain.
Now perhaps my envy of other major universities that happen to have great sports programs with packed audiences every week stems from the fact that we play in the Georgia Dome, a professional sporting arena that seats more than 70,000 on a good day.
Or, maybe, it comes from the college football culture so endemic to the South that it’s only natural to want others at your university to respect their school.
Sadly, many students here, especially commuters, seem ashamed to represent their school outside the university — the same school, it’s worth noting, which they chose to attend via one way or the other, paying money for the privilege to do so.
To these people, I say even if Georgia State wasn’t your first choice, even if you were raised on SEC football and even if you think it’s hard to support GSU Athletics, do not disrespect others on campus by revealing your true loyalties.
So what if your heart doesn’t bleed blue, as the analogy goes? It’s your money and no one can force school pride on others. To think that you can do that would be somewhat silly.
But that’s no reason to disrespect everyone else by wearing the jerseys, hats and bags of other competing universities while on campus.
Maybe you can’t see the past, present and future of your hopefully soon-to-be alma matter, but we sure as hell can.
And we’re proud, too, so show so damn class and leave that stuff at home.
Caption: Albert Wilson recovers the football for a 60 yrd return in Georgia State’s homecoming game on Oct. 20, 2012. Photo by Chris Shattuck.
This story first ran in The Signal on Oct. 16, 2012, and can be viewed online at georgiastatesignal.com.