It’s October 7th, 2009. My co-worker tells me something interesting first thing this morning. “Wanna know what Budro said this morning on the radio?” “Sure.” ,I replied. “He said that ASU’s 3-point loss to Iowa was a ‘loss/win’ for the Red Wolves. Then he said that Arkansas’s 28 point defeat of Texas A&M was a ‘win/loss’ for the Hogs.”
Now, I didn’t hear Budro’s logic or argument to support his comment. And I am sure he had good reason’s for making such a claim. But I want to make an argument against ever using this kind of rhetoric, founded or not.
It should be said from the outset, that I consider myself an ASU fan – particularly Football. I am not a basketball fan, period. And I played against ASU Baseball in college. But I am an ASU football fan. But I wasn’t raised to be an ASU fan. I was raised in a pure Razorback household. It wasn’t until high-school, when I became an avid football fan, that I began to like and follow ASU. My earliest memories of getting excited about ASU games where when Cleo Lemmon was QB-ing for the team. I remember Lemmon, Kilow, Adams, and many other great ASU players.
But, as I said, I had to “learn” to like the ASU Red Wolves (then Indians). And there is something interesting about that. No one in my family told me not to like the Indians. No one in my Hog-loving family mentioned to me that there might be a conflict in following and watching and cheering for both teams. I just did. It wasn’t until I met my best friend, Josh Allison, that I learned that life-time ASU fans hated the Hogs.
All of this brings back a very specific memory for me. I can’t remember what Razorback game it was. It seems like it was Arkansas vs. Auburn. I was in high-school and me and some of my friends got tickets to the game in Fayetteville. It was half-time and the announcer was shouting off some scores to other big SEC games. When he got done he said, “And Arkansas State is beating Miami 3-0 after the 1st Quarter!” The crowd cheered.
The next week we went to an ASU game. If I remember correctly (and I probably do not) it was ASU vs. New Mexico State. At half-time they announced that Arkansas had lost (I don’t remember to whom). The crowd cheered.
Now, let me pause to state my opinion about something. I think Arkansas should man-up and play ASU. I am in favor of an in-state rivalry. It does wonders for your state, especially in the long-run (for both teams, no matter the outcome). Furthermore, it is my opinion that not having the rivalry is more of a detriment to ASU than it is U of A, and therefore, not altogether fair for the Jonesboro University. There, I said it.
But, having said that, I would like to add that Hog-hating is a bad color for ASU fans and patrons. Moreover, it is terrible for the University. Why? Here are my reasons:
1> Whether it is jealousy or not, it looks and smells like jealousy. And jealousy ALWAYS makes the envious party look bad, and the party envied look good. In other words, when you hate the Hogs, they come out smelling like a rose, and you come off…. well, sour.
2> Even the states with the greatest in-state rivalry’s (i.e. Michigan vs. Michigan St., Iowa vs. Iowa St., Texas vs. Texas A&M, Florida St. vs. Miami, Florida vs. Florida St., Cal vs. USC, etc, etc, etc…) will tell you that they wish nothing but the best for their opponent… until they play one another. And this seems to me to be the best policy in athletics. Why would you wish ill on the object of your desire? If you want to play the Hogs some day, wouldn’t it be better that they be awesome? Wouldn’t it be better for ASU, should they win that game, if U of A were a very good team, with a very good national reputation? Wouldn’t it better for the state of Arkansas if both teams were regarded as good when they met for their first battle? C’mon… wise up sports fans. You want to beat good teams, not bad ones.
3> Don’t be a Negative Nancy! And stop wasting energy on other teams. My friend, a fore mentioned, Josh Allison, was at the Troy State game recently. His comment after the game… “I hate our fans” Why did he say this? Because ASU’s fans got the life sucked out of them over the fumble in the 4th quarter. Josh understands something that other fans present that day do not. That support and momentum are powerful in college football. There was still time on the clock. The game was not over. Be there for your dang team. Have some spirit for crying out loud! I later asked another ASU fan a philosophical question. (please note that I am aware that my implication may be weak here) “What if ASU fans are tying up so much energy in hating the Hogs, worrying about what they are doing, saying ‘how long with the Hogs run?’, wishing ill on their team, wishing ill on the Universtiy, making sure they are never portrayed in a positive light, etc., that they don’t have the energy to pull for their own team the way they need to?” Don’t scoff. I think it’s plausible. Ask yourself this, why do the Hogs fans cheer for ASU from Fayetteville? Well, partly because they are oblivious of the animosity. And such “non-concern” allows them to pour all their football worries, support, and cheering into just Arkansas football.
4> This may throw you for a loop. But it dawned on me this year that when ASU fans say things like “ASU’s 3-point loss to Iowa was a ‘loss/win’ for the Red Wolves and Arkansas’s 28 defeat of Texas A&M was a ‘win/loss’ for the Hogs.” that they are confessing that U of A is better than they are. Get it? You should. Never say that losing a close game is “win”. Never ever do that… EVER! If you want to be good, if you want your program to gain national recognition and respect, then NEVER accept defeat! Say it… the loss to Iowa is a loss. Say it! Now! We lost to Iowa… not a moral victory… a loss. And this is important! It’s important that you expect to win, no matter who you are playing. In college, my baseball coach would say “There is no such thing as a moral victory in baseball. You play to win. You don’t play not to lose. You don’t play to almost win, or to hang tight with a team. You play to win big games against the best teams. And it doesn’t matter who you are, or who they are. You play to win.” And that is why there is no such thing as a win that is really a loss in college football. And there is no such thing as a loss that is really a win. You either win or lose. And to true competitors, losing by a little doesn’t soften the blow… it makes it worse.