It’s the ones who have the least to lose that should get frustrated and angry when circumstances worsen but they remain calm, they get it. It’s those long suffering folks that when life makes them face even more suffering, yet still manages a smile, they are in a small way, heroes. It’s the poorest man in town that possesses the greatest wealth of all, kindness that makes this world more livable.
When you’re rich and blessed beyond measure, you feel entitled. Winning at a high level, all the time becomes an expectation, that it will always be this way, but it won’t. When you’re at the top of the mountain, the views are intoxicating. It can make you feel invincible but then the winds blow and you tumble.
It’s the ones with the most to give, that often give the least and still expect more. They’ve become spoiled, arrogant, almost unlikable. They’re a mere shadow of their once decent self.
This is my description of some that call themselves Tiger Faithful. I know them well. For a long, long time, I was one of them, the faithless. I basked in every victory as if I had actually fought for it on the field. I blamed everyone, in childish fit for each loss, never ever looking inward. I’m happy to say, I’m in rehab…Obnoxious Fan Rehab.
It all started earlier this season when my team lost. Within the walls of my home, alone, with little left to do, I finally looked inward and hated what I saw. The one thing I disdain for in others, I saw in my self. It was hubris, blatant, despicable hubris. Then, I heard a voice from somewhere in my past say…”Suck it up buttercup!”
When I was a little fella and I didn’t get my way, I’d become ugly, petulant and not very likable. It was my grandmother, impervious to my behavior that would simply say, “Suck it up buttercup!” Then, she’d continue along her way, never giving me so much as a second glance. She was a real gem. She was my gateway to reality.
This season, Clemson had the audacity, the unmitigated gall to be average! Some, like me, have said or thought, “this is the Clemson Tigers, an elite program, with two national championships. We’ve got Dabo Swinney and now the team just sucks.” God, how I cringe when I think how stupid that ungrateful rant sounds. It all changed two weeks ago when I saw a picture.
That picture has become, at least in my mind, iconic. It speaks to me. It’s a stark kick in the butt to me, one of the faithless. It’s reality.
The picture is one showing two brothers both clad in orange, whose bodies were beaten and bruised, physically and emotionally spent, one helping the other off the battlefield. The look in their eyes say it all. I knew I needed to change when I didn’t feel worthy to dare look in those eyes. Those that gave all. Me, that gave nothing but criticism.
As a fan, I can be as loud and obnoxious as I want. I can be as critical, call out coaches and even taunt those reasonable among us. I can do all that asinine, snarky crap as good as anyone. However, I realized, looking at the eyes of two of our warriors, damnit, they deserve better than I was giving. They deserve to be able to stumble, even fall, be human and not be pummeled by hateful words thrown by entitled, selfish people. They need to be understood, not belittled. They need supporting not scolding.
This team might not be the program’s best, by comparison of won/loss records and that’s okay. This team, these coaches deserve the right to stumble, even fall and have the fans collectively and figuratively there to help pick them up. Those that have given so much for those that demand more. That’s where some of us are in our fandom.
In my voluntary admission into Obnoxious Fan Rehab, I’ve found peace and patience with myself and others like me. It’s been eye-opening. So for those of you, like me, that might need this level of rehab all you need to do is look in the mirror and say…”Suck it up buttercup!” My Grandmother sure as heck would have.
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