Alabama’s loss to Auburn on Friday hurt. It hurt bad. I’m just to the point where I can stand to think about it three days later. I was a little worried Friday night that I was too upset about it. I mean, I’m a grown man with responsibilities far greater than being a college football fan. I have a family. I have a business. When you shake out all the important stuff, the outcome of one football game isn’t really that big of a deal.

On the other hand, I am rational enough to know that there more important things than football and that realization, in and of itself, allows me to be passionate about football and not feel the least bit guilty about it.

I am a passionate person. That’s just who I am. I emotionally invest myself in the University of Alabama football team and their success and failure. The wins mean something to me, especially the big ones, like the SEC and National championships won last season and the last two year’s Iron Bowls. And if I revel in the highs, by nature, I must suffer through the lows. The losses hurt on an emotional level. It’s a vicious cycle that I am in, but the highs are worth the lows, because of one thing:

As a person, I am not defined by the actions of a football team. The football team that I have adopted as my own especially, but also any teams that interact with them.

My team losing does not make me a loser. My team winning does not make me a winner. My value as a person, both to myself and to others has nothing whatsoever to do with a scoreboard. Never has. Never will.

I think we all need to be reminded of that from time to time. Ego wants us to compare ourselves with others – even to the extent of winners and losers on the football field. That comparison makes us feel better or worse than others – better if our team wins, worse if out team looses – but never equal to others. As much fun as it is to build up the rivalry between Alabama and Auburn, the truth is that there is virtually no differences between the fan bases of either school. Maybe the comedy comes from pointing out despicable attributes of ourselves and labeling our rival with them. Either way, the jokes that we make about one school and its fans can be used in the opposite, just as easily.

The problem comes when we take the identity of our chosen team as our own.

As disappointed as I was at the loss, I was still proud to be a fan and an alumnus.  After the recent success of Alabama, it was hard to believe that they were going to lose again. When it happened, especially to our rival, it is hard to stomach.

One final thought while I’m full of brevity today: Hate is an active emotion. I’m not sure the psychological jargon involved, but I am certain that to hate someone or something requires active participation from the person doing the hating. I understand that it is considered part of the rivalry and that is what makes this particular rivalry so heated, but the hate doesn’t really do us any good other than the comedic aspect of all of this.

I’m not going to wast energy hating something. That’s energy I could use for other, more important things. Especially if that hate only serves to protect or feed my Ego.

Of course there are 39 weeks until the 2011 season kicks off.

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