The topic of fan behavior has been discussed a lot over the last week following Oliver Luck’s letter to Mountaineer fans. This is not a reaction to that letter as I sat down a few weeks ago to write about an opportunity for Mountaineer fans to have a rebirth. Then a mixture of laziness and work got in the way. Looking back, however, I’m glad it did.
My scheduled post included a not so elegant list of actions you should or not do to opposing fans. However, that seemed preachy and did not communicate my true feelings. It came across as trying to lecture people into submission and we all know that Mountaineer fans do not like lectures. I mean just walk into an 8:30 am Friday morning Econ 54 class, empty. I simply want Mountaineer Field and the fans that occupy its seats to be seen as loud and proud, while also being considerate and accommodating to opposing fans.
I could come up with a long list of examples of how not to act. This article may lead me to give some of those examples. However, it all comes down to one simple sentence. Don’t be an idiot.
Remembering that phrase can be hard once you start soaking in the atmosphere of your tailgate, see your old college friends and take a long swig of ‘shine. I know, I’ve been one of those jerks yelling derogatory phrases at opposing fans as they walk to the stadium. I’m not proud of those memories and wish I could take it back. When I’m not at Mountaineer games and I see someone from out of state I try to go out of my way to make sure they have a positive experience in West Virginia. I’m proud of my home state and want others to appreciate it and love her as much as I do.
This season is our chance to make a positive first impression on our new brethren in the Big 12. Whether our status as some of the most rude and obnoxious fans in college football is deserved or not can be debated on end. Let’s move past that and all agree that we can do better at providing a more welcoming atmosphere for opposing fans.
Notice I said, "opposing fans" and not "opposing teams." Nobody wants you to sit on your hands and treat a football game like a church service. Hell, I don’t even want people sitting down during the game. It just comes down to the simple fact that intimidating opposing fans does nothing to help our football team win. It just makes you look like an idiot and makes that fan not want to visit Morgantown or the State of West Virginia ever again.
We live in a beautiful state with so much to offer. Our beautiful rolling mountains protect our majestic valleys from perverse outside influences that have allowed the residents of West Virginia to maintain a proud and welcoming charm. Visitors comment about our states beauty and its people after visits. That experience should be no different for opposing fans. Our scenic beauty can be their consolation for the "L" we put in their team's column.
This weekend is a great opportunity for us to practice our behavior for the arrival of Baylor fans on September 29. While we may not be bringing in any out of state money, we are welcoming an opponent that is not our rival and its fans are easy to please. Just point them in the direction of food and you won’t be able to hear their lame trash talk through a full mouth of food. Hey, I never said some good-natured ribbing was not allowed. Seriously though, invite Marshall’s 10 fans over for a beer. By the end of the tailgate they will admit that they are really WVU fans. After all, the reason the school colors are green and white, is because they are green with envy about everything WVU.
That is enough, I’m moving on from poking fun at our friends down south.
A welcoming fan experience will not only make Morgantown a must attend destination for a college football weekend. It will also help keep the focus on our football team and not our fans.
While we may not immediately change the media’s opinion of us, we CAN establish a positive reputation within the Big 12. It all comes down to these simple words, DON’T BE AN IDIOT.