There are many cliche’s involving sports and life.
“Sports doesn’t build character, it reveals it.”
“Sports imitates life.”
But perhaps the truth is how sports gives us a chance to gain perspective on what might be going on around you.
As the tragedy at Penn State continues to unfold, it’s much more a story about responsibility, accountability and how an organization works (or doesn’t) as it is about sports. The time-honored ideas of loyalty and leadership, so valued in a sports oriented situation, play a big part in what happened and how it was handled in State College.
Here in the state of Florida, we’ve been lucky to witness the domination of college football by Miami, FSU and Florida in the last 20 years. If one of those teams didn’t win or play for a National Championship, they had some say on who did. It’s heady stuff, knowing your team is going to be good year after year.
There’s a whole generation of fans who don’t know anything but winning when it comes to their teams. That shapes your thinking, shapes your actions and especially shapes your expectations. But somewhere along the way, that changes, leaving fans with a couple of choices going forward.
Do I now hate my own team? Do I chastise them for letting me down? Do I affix blame from the ownership on down and demand they all be fired?
How fans react in those situations is a pretty good indicator as to how they’ll react when it really counts.
Fans of the “U” used to have a swagger that bordered on the absurd. Now they’ve been forced to retreat from that stance, as Miami is a mid-level team in their own conference.
FSU’s fall from grace forced Seminole fans to make their own decisions about their icon, Bobby Bowden. How they reacted to that will give them a future lesson on a changing of the guard in their own lives.
We often joke that the most important three words in the University of Florida football media guide are “Since Nineteen Ninety.” A great many Gator fans don’t even know what you mean when you allude to the one-time rallying cry of “Wait ’till next year!” Nonetheless, while the 2011 season seems like only a bump in the road, it is giving a lot of Gators a taste of how it felt to their opponents in the last twenty years with the Orange and Blue were on the other side of the line.
While the Jaguars, Bucs and Dolphins have had their moments of excitement, it’s been a test of patience for their fans all over the state recently.
Some people can probably learn a lot about themselves by reflecting on what kind of fan they are. Loyal, fickle, fair-weather whatever.
What’s that say about you?