When fandom goes too far

Published 9:27 am Wednesday, November 11, 2015

This past weekend, Alabama defeated LSU, 30-16. The game was highly anticipated. Both teams were ranked in the top five in the nation and both teams featured Heisman worthy running backs. Excitement was in the air in Tuscaloosa. Tide fans and LSU fans around the nation dished banter back and forth.

On the Friday before the game, some of the fans of the Crimson Tide took it too far. A banner was hung at an off-campus Tuscaloosa condo with the saying “Finish what Katrina started”.

Now, I take pride in saying I graduated from the University of Alabama, but when I saw the picture of the banner, my stomach doubled over in disgust. Really? Drunk or not, whatever the case may be, there is no excuse. The banner was stupid judgment. It was ignorance.

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Ten years ago Hurricane Katrina killed more than 1,800 people in Louisiana. That’s families destroyed; homes lost. And somebody wants to put up a disgusting banner over a football game?

One of the things that make the act hard to comprehend is that, in the not so distant past, tragedy struck the Tuscaloosa area in the form of a natural disaster as well.

Flashback: April 27, 2011, a tornado tore through Tuscaloosa leaving a path of destruction. The tornado travelled more than 80 miles through Greene, Tuscaloosa and Jefferson County flattening everything in its path. Over 60 people died, including six University of Alabama students. I remember being there at the time.

There was so much uncertainty in the air about the damage done. About a week or two later when I was able to drive around and see the damage, I couldn’t believe it. It’s one thing to hear about something. It’s another thing to see. Tuscaloosa has recovered about as best as it can since then, but the memory is still there.

Those who put the banner up must have a short-term memory.

Louisiana will never be the same after Katrina. Citizens are still recovering. The LSU football team had 16 players who shared how Katrina affected their lives personally. Among the 16 was star running back Leornard Fournette.

According to his interview with ESPN, Fournette said his whole family of more than a dozen people slept on a bridge for several days. Fournette described seeing his city in turmoil.

“Seeing all those dead bodies in the water, man, floating,” Fournette said shaking his head. “People robbing. I actually saw a man who took a man’s watch off him– off a dead body. The city was crazy.”

Sports are supposed to be uplifting because its one of the few things that bring a mass of people together. If I see some one with a Alabama hat on, it doesn’t matter where we are in the world or what our backgrounds are, I can say “Roll Tide” and we’re on the same page. That’s with any team. Sports is not a cure all for the problems in the world, but I think they’re a positive step in healing and growing.

There is nothing wrong with being a passionate fan. But you have to draw a line.  Don’t ruin something good that brings people together because of ignorance.

At the end of the day players and coaches are more than just players and coaches. And a team, and school as well in this case, is much more than one bad apple in the bunch. Roll Tide