On November 10, 2007 I walked to my seats in Boone Pickens Stadium eager to watch my beloved Cowboys take on the undefeated and top 5 ranked Kansas Jayhawks. My seats back then were on the lowest part of the most eastern section on the south side right next to Gallagher-Iba Arena. As I got close to my spot I noticed a patch of Jayhawk blue right in front of my seats. Having visiting fans sit by me wasn’t uncommon based on where my season tickets were and honestly I kind of enjoyed talking to fans from other schools. I’m the guy who is fine meeting a stranger and can talk to just about anyone.
The large blue patch I saw turned out to be just a single Kansas fan sitting directly in front of my seats. He was a pretty big guy, bigger than me which is saying something, and he had actually purchased two seats for himself so he wouldn’t make people around him uncomfortable by spilling over in their space. He was super friendly and a genuinely nice man and probably one of the more enjoyable visitors to Stillwater I’ve had the pleasure of sitting by. He was a Kansas graduate and just couldn’t believe they were having such a good year! He had gone to every home game and was trying to make it to every game that was reasonable for him to travel to. Stillwater was only a four hour drive for him so he snatched up some tickets and came on down!
The Jayhawks were really good that year (yes, the Kansas Jayhawks) and went 11-1 and won the Orange Bowl. That one loss was not to my Cowboys and they handled the Pokes 43-28 in a game that was never really in doubt. Well, my temporary friend from Kansas cheered his team on HARD the whole game. Yelling, clapping, waving his arms back and forth in the air after every touchdown.
The longer the game went on the more grumbling I heard from my left. There was a man who had his season tickets about 10 seats down the row from me that wasn’t a very pleasant person. Maybe he just liked football more than me (doubtful) but if the games weren’t going well his life wasn’t going well and he would let everyone know. Well the game wasn’t going well and he had decided that the Jayhawk fan in front of me had no business cheering for his team.
It started with just semi-loud remarks but the worse the score got the louder he got and the more vile he became. It was making the man in front of me visibly nervous. And why wouldn’t he be? He’s behind enemy lines, surrounded by orange-clad fans, and he’s being threatened physical harm because his team happens to be winning. I told him multiple times not to worry, that that guy was a blowhard and wouldn’t actually do anything but finally in the middle of one of the brow-beatings he was getting he said to me “man, I’m just going to go ahead and leave I think.”
Well that was it for me. I stood up and in words I can’t repeat verbatim in here told the man down the row from me to sit down, be quiet, and leave the guy in front of me alone. He had every right to cheer for his team and if it wasn’t bothering me, the guy right behind him, than it shouldn’t bother him. Now I’m not a tough guy and will never pretend to be but I’m scary enough looking with my build and hair and beard and tattoos that if you don’t know me you might think twice about fighting me. Having my brother and my roommate there with me probably helped too. Well Captain Obnoxious sat down and kept his mouth shut the rest of the way. My Kansas friend thanked me, stayed to watch his team win, and I even sat with him while he waited for the crowds to clear out before walking out of the stadium just to be sure nothing happened.
Of course I’m telling you this story because of what has been alleged to happen in Norman during Bedlam where an OSU equipment manager reportedly has a broken rib and a few more cracked thanks to some Sooner fans taking issue with him trying to retrieve a game ball before it could be thrown over the top of the stands. I had something to say about it on Twitter, and of course had OU fans suggesting I only care because it was Sooner-on-Cowboy crime and how I wouldn’t care had it been the other way around.
I’m a lot of things but I’m not a hypocrite. I’m actually probably quicker to call out horrible OSU fans than I am any others.
I’m not going to lecture OU fans or say anything bad about them despite some rather bad personal experiences I’ve had over the years (I’ll never go to Bedlam in Norman ever again) because I know first hand every fanbase has its idiots. Every team has that slice of fans who take it way to seriously. If your favorite team is somehow tied into your self worth, or you get mad enough to threaten a different team’s fan with physical violence, or God forbid break a young man’s ribs for doing his job then you should probably reevaluate how you live your life.
As a person you should try to stop bullies whenever you can. Help those who need help. It’s an easy enough thing to do. As a fan you should try to stop fellow fans from being bullies. Smack talk is great and a lot of fun almost all the time but there are lines that shouldn’t be crossed. No one wants their favorite team to be the one that people just can’t stand because the fans are jerks. Watch the video of the Bedlam incident and look at how many people just stood and watched. OU already has a pretty poor reputation for how their fans treat visitors and this will that reputation worse.
We are ambassadors for our schools. We should want to stop poor behavior from our fellow fans. We should want people to enjoy visiting our campuses, not hating our teams because they got spit on in the stands or because they had beer thrown on them while they walked to their car. I didn’t confront that fan down the row from me in 2007 because I’m some kind of tough guy or because I wanted impress anyone or because I wanted praise for it. I did it because it needed done, and because I didn’t want to nice man in front of me to have a negative opinion of my Cowboys because of a drunk idiot a few seats down. We all need to step it up on calling this kind of behavior out when we see it. I don’t care if you’re a Cowboy or a Sooner or a Jayhawks or a Horned Frog or a Mountaineer. There’s no place for it and it’s up to us, the fans, to get it out of our respective cultures.
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