Clemson Football: The Dark, Ugly Side of Passion

Sometimes things are said, no matter if possessing the right to say them, that just cross the line of appropriateness.

Like taking an innocent nickname of a young man and turn it into a disparaging phrase. Claiming, unfounded disharmony on the team insinuating some are purposely setting up another for failure. These type things are mostly said out of anger and frustration but those reasons are not good enough.

The old saying “silence is golden” should resonate with those eager to use every available avenue to spew their unreasonable, incendiary and cruel words at those that have given so much. It’s a shame. When fans, myself included, give into the notion that their words mean something and can actually effect a change in staffing and/or on the roster shows their delusion. When they do such, they cease to be objective and become a source of distraction.

A certain degree of hurt and frustration is understandable but the way those emotions are handled, in a terrible way, can become weapons of mass destruction for our “enemies”(think David Pollack saying he’s “done with Clemson” and the latest comments from Trent Dilfer and others) creating intended, collateral damage. At some point, somebody has to have the courage to say enough! Today, that somebody is me.

The cacophony of the displeasure is deafening, these harsh words are burning bridges, some of which can never be rebuilt. Such behavior has no positive outcome but many negatives. It is an ugly “look” for recruits and their families, it’s demoralizing to an already emotionally beleaguered group. It also taints the reputation of a caring, devoted, different kind of program.

I’ve accused the unapologetic sunshine pumpers as acting somewhat cultish and to a degree, that is true, but I’ve realized most are just trying to use their words to offer a counterbalance to the shortsighted comments by others. In their own way, they are trying to practice the art of peacemaking to combat the dark, ugly side of passion.

Has this season thus far and the probable ultimate outcome been a huge disappointment? Yes, obviously. This team, these coaches are not above questioning but they’ve got way more invested than any fan could ever imagine. The constant harping is doing no one any good. The irony of human nature is this, the more we criticize, the less likely we are to get the the desired outcome. Like an overbearing father, constant in his criticism, it breeds, anxiety, hesitance and fear of failure among its intended victims.

As I see it, what a few folks are doing and saying borders on bullying. And to be clear, we aren’t talking about constructive criticism, so to speak. But to find a flaw in others and exploit that flaw with inappropriate, hateful words just defies understanding. This program, at this point, is no less the victim of bullying than the fat kid on the playground. I was that fat kid and I remember. Not just from a few unreasonable fans but from some in the national media, it’s everywhere, it’s distracting and it’s noisy.

Passion, above all human emotions, is a double-edged sword. The same passion that makes Death Valley a formidable, hostile place for opponents can also causes hurt and injury in the deepest places of a young man’s psyche. There are forces at play this year that defy understanding. Injuries, unbelievable in the sheer scope and numbers are taking a huge physical toll on this team. Also, words that inflict wounds that are deeper and more damaging that any knife or gun are taking its toll as well.

This team deserves better, a lot better. Some fans are spoiled, entitled and unreasonable not because they voice their displeasure but in the depths they’ve taken it. Not only towards this team but to each other. It tears at the fabric of that which we all hold dear. More than the on the field failures of the team, the failures of those that support this team are the most glaring. We fans, not this team, are the greater disappointment to Clemson in 2021.

It’s unreasonable to demand change and yet not be willing to change ourselves. I’m not going to resort to placing Clemson fans into the good and the bad category as I believe most lie somewhere in the middle. However, it’s so tempting to segregate this fanbase but this is not the intent of this article.

Finally, to constantly and incessantly impugn and insult a player for his obvious struggles is unforgivable and terribly immature. It speaks volumes as to who we are as a Clemson Family. The behavior, this outrageous bullying will end, one day. I suspect when this ship is righted, the success abundant, all will be right in the world. However, never underestimate the power of words. Things that are said, once they leave our lips to enter the world, they can never, ever be taken back.

These players know, hear and see our collective disappointment and will use that to motivate themselves to improve. They will dance, celebrate and enjoy the fruits of their deserved success again but they won’t soon forget the cruelty inflicted when they were down. How could they? It’s everywhere and I for one wouldn’t blame them for looking at some of the more vocal in the Clemson Family as selfish, greedy and immature.

Don’t forget, these young men know they’re not who or what they had hoped for far better than anyone of us passive observers. They’re born to please, to compete and to win and this difficult year is shaking their personal foundation to the core. As adults, let’s put down the swords, act reasonable and give these beleaguered young men a break. They deserve that and I for one am going to give it to them.

I won’t pretend I’m above anyone in my worthiness to be a Clemson Tiger. I also understand that even the most vocal, disappointed are so because they love this team as much as I do. So forgive my momentary preachiness. We’re all on the same team.

Last word, these young men owe us nothing but they give their all and despite the outcome of this season, I believe they will continue to do so until the final whistle of the final game. So, why can’t we?

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6 thoughts on “Clemson Football: The Dark, Ugly Side of Passion

  1. A thoughtful comment on the mental condition of our football team. Well said. As my momma used to say..”if you can’t say something nice, then say nothing.” Sharp tongues cut deep. Go Tigers. I’m proud of you and our fans. One play at a time. One game at a time. The best is standard. All in.

  2. Excellent words! Thank you for saying what so many are feeling and have not been successful in getting the point across to those dishing out the unrelenting bully tactics. It has broken my heart to see the ugliness spewed, so adamantly, with the claim of “constructive criticism”. That behavior is just wrong and is very damaging. I pray that this article will open eyes, and effect a change in attitudes and actions.
    Go Tigers!!

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