I love my Yellow Jackets. The school, the team and well, most of the time, the fans. But I must say that I have become increasingly disappointed in the fans over the past couple of football seasons, particularly in the student section.
My brother is a Clemson student, and each year, we celebrate the big game by traveling to the site of the game and sitting together to root for our respective teams. Last year, I joined him in the Clemson student section, appreciating and respecting the traditions of another school. I touched Howard’s Rock, sat on the hill and watched their team come in just a few feet from me, all while still cheering on my Jackets. Sure, I was a bit out-cheered, but I did my best to keep up.
This year, I was excited to have my brother here at Bobby Dodd Stadium, to show him the energy, fun and spirit of Tech football. But instead, from the second we settled into our spots in the student section to the moment we rushed the field, I was repeatedly shocked and disappointed at the behavior of my peers. Before the game, we had singing of “Clemson is a redneck school–do daa, do daa” and chanting of profanity toward him in unison. During the game, of course, the trash talk continued, with fans cursing directly at my brother. Finally, there was the guy sitting next to me who verbally harassed and physically pushed me, a fellow Yellow Jacket, off the bench repeatedly throughout the game, without any sort of provocation or reason. A lot of Tech students pride themselves on their southern hospitality and class–we are, after all, the Scion of the Southland–but on this night, Tech lacked both.
Now don’t get me wrong: I still love Tech. But today, I am not proud to be a Yellow Jacket. I am personally embarrassed and humiliated to call the students leading this trashy cheering and repulsive behavior my classmates. My brother and I talked to my parents after the game, and they were appalled. Though they are proud to send their daughter to a great school, it saddens them to see me surrounded by students who would treat others, even if from a rival school, with such disrespect, dishonor and disdain; it saddens them to see that a school so progressive in the academic realm can lag so vastly in embedding basic and essential morals into its students.
Tech, is this the image that you want to portray to all those who encounter a Yellow Jacket sports fan? Is this what you want future supervisors, co-workers, colleagues and neighbors to hear about your school from the thousands of fans who visit your school each year? Are you going to be the ambivalent fan that simply follows the crowd in this behavior? I certainly hope not. I am going to pledge to live up to a Gold Standard for the respect of other fans from whom I expect mutual respect, for the respect of the players on both teams who practice countless hours for your entertainment and for the respect of your university that deserves much more than the reputation it was given last Saturday night. Will you join me?
3rd year CHBE