The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Morgan Shiver, Contributor • June 20, 2024
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Revved Up: Fandom, rivalry and the spirit of competition

I should admit that I am a Horned Frog. I have two siblings that went to TCU, I met my wife at TCU and though I may be attending SMU for my graduate education, I will cheer as loudly for TCU now as I did in my undergraduate days.

But let me let you in on a little secret. These two schools need each other. Rivalry brings out the best that competitors have to offer. And in a state draped by burnt orange and maroon, both schools must bring their A-game if they do not want to be forgotten.

What excites me about the Iron Skillet is the unpredictably. You know that both teams are really playing to win. Pride and identity is at stake. When TCU beat Oklahoma in 2005, Frogs were ready to see their school make BCS noise. But when the Mustangs trampled all over the Frogs in Ford stadium, the nation and more importantly TCU learned the Frogs had a long way to go before a BCS bowl would be or should be in the picture. And I’m sure SMU’s loss to TCU this season will fuel June Jones’ squad to push through their growing pains and give SMU something to cheer about.

But true connoisseurs of the game know that rivalry happens both on and off the field. Teams need to be able to trust that their fans will be rooting for them rain or shine. Coaches like Gary Patterson know what a raucous crowd can do. That’s why he made his team practice in a wave of noise, so that they’d be prepared to play against the chest-caving cheers of “Boomer Sooner.”

When you show up for your team, you are the hope and inspiration that helps each player fight for every inch. SMU players have enough to think about before game time, and they shouldn’t have to wonder whether or not the visiting team is going to have a stronger fan base in the stands. That being said, the SMU ticket office needs to do everything in their power so students can get into the game for free.

Frankly, most of our athletic programs have not built up enough clout to earn the privilege of asking students to have to pay for tickets. There is no reason why SMU students shouldn’t have been able to get into the SMU vs. TCU football game. Fans have “ponied up” enough in student fees and lately they have been doing an awesome job rocking the Boulevard. Now let them cheer their hearts out inside Ford Stadium.

The diehard fans also know that rivalry takes place the week before game day. If you are playing a team in sensible driving distance then let the prank war begin. Various generations of alums can talk about their version of the glory days when one side did this or that to the other. But it seems like those days are all but over now. I heard that in the 1980’s, the SMU marching band played at TCU’s Amon Carter Stadium and when the musicians assembled in an SMU configuration, they pulled out crabgrass to fall on the field. Months later, TCU’s home field had the letters S-M-U embedded into the green. I hear stories like that and I wonder whether antics like that happen anymore. Now I am not condoning vandalism or any illegal activity, but must those days be over?

Competition does not just give fans something to watch, but it challenges and inspires spectators to do their best in what ever it is that they do. It reminds us that we have the opportunity to live the stories that are worth telling to the next generation.

In its purest form, competition tells us the difficult truth that an excellent life is not about how much potential we have but rather about how far we will go to succeed. Sports exemplifies that successful communities need players and cheerers to do their best. It shows us that our defeats are the backstory to our success. Whether you “hail to the red and blue” or “rif ram bah zoo,” may you be revved up enough to approach midseason, mid-semester and midterms with the ambition and perseverance to do the hard work it takes to pursue your goals.

Richard Newton is a student at the Perkins School of Theology. He can be reached for comment at [email protected].

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