Thank God it’s only two hours to the Tennessee border

I am not looking forward to football season these days as much as I usually do.

For starters, my teams are either in a new and temporary funk (Tennessee), or in the same funk they’re always in (Army). And before craptalkersstarttalkincrap, hear me out.

Tennessee has been through the ringer these past few years. Under similar circumstances, ANY team in the country would be having the same problems. It’s not an issue of recruiting – though that certainly is one aspect of Tennessee’s program that has suffered deeply in the wake of all that has happened. It began with Phillip Fulmer’s unceremonious firing after a few less-than-stellar (but not overly terrible or even statistically losing) seasons. Then, much to the chagrin of a few old-school types who knew he was not a good fit for Tennessee, Lane Kiffin came in and so began the “Year o’ Douche,” a fall full of mediocrity and bad press, punctuated by Kiffin’s unceremonious abandonment of the team after just one season of coaching (Seriously…Lane Kiffin…what a jerk). So after that whole mess, then we finally have Derek Dooley coming in and trying to pull everything together. For Tennessee, the past few seasons have definitely, admittedly been rough. We make no bones about that as fans, and we don’t feel any need to defend ourselves. At the end of the day, Tennessee is a football institution, a place with a lot more history, culture, and and good ol’ Southern charm and manners than…oh, let’s just say I can think of a few schools. Tennessee’s football program is gonna have a few seasons of catching up to do after the hell it’s been through. We don’t have to cheer for a winning team all the time, because that’s what fanhood is about – loving your team through thick and thin.

On the other hand, we have Army – my other beloved team, which is hardly ever exceptional or even winning…God bless ’em, they do the best they can. Because the physical qualities for a good officer are almost diametrically opposed to the physical qualities necessary for a good football player. I’m always kind of tickled when someone wants to insult the Army football team in my presence. My standard response for anybody who has a problem with Army’s difficulty on the football field is this: Geez, how dare they be anything but awesome at football while they prepare to serve your country and protect your sorry ass and all your rights to be a jerk. The nerve.

But this year, football season is really just bringing a more routine level of dread to me, because I live in South Carolina. As most of you know by now, I was born and raised in South Carolina, but I’ve cheered for Tennessee since I was a little girl. My older brother was a teenager when I was born, so he had moved to Tennessee and was living there with his father full-time pretty much as early as I can remember – and thus, I just sort of started cheering for Tennessee. I remember driving up to see my grandparents and my brother, and later my brother’s wife and two daughters – seeing that big, blue “Welcome to Tennessee” sign, the beautiful mountains, the hilly farmland, honey stands, and all the beauty that place holds. South Carolina is a gorgeous state, and I love living here – but Tennessee is something special, y’all. Jonathan and I even tried to get jobs up there after college, but things just worked out that the best offer we got was here in Greenville. So that’s how we ended up here, and we’re okay with it. But we love Tennessee in this family.

And thus, my being a Tennessee fan often baffles and usually offends “the natives” in these parts. I’m not sure what that’s all about, since my preference in football teams shouldn’t be nearly as important to a lot of people as it seems to be. But alas, not a fall arrives that I don’t get darn near hazed over my preference for Good ol’ Rocky Top. Nowhere is this more evident than in my exchanges with South Carolina’s “‘C-ck’ Nation.” Also known as “They Who Fancy Sandstorm a Fight Song.” You know the ones. They go through a lot of white towels, I’m told.

I’m not here to debate the finer points of football with anyone, because this is not a debate. This is my blog, so I tend to delete comments I don’t like. Call me a “censor,” I won’t mind…

Now, how do I put this carefully, so as not to offend anyone, since “C-ck” fans are soooooo very kind, even-tempered, and good-natured. Hmm.

I hate dealing with you people, South Carolina fans. Now, don’t go getting all huffy with me. If you’re a friend or even a family member, you know I love you! It’s just that I can’t stand to be around you when the topic turns to football (always at your urging, because I have more desire to have my toenails yanked off with a pair of pliers than to discuss football with you people) and you immediately begin launching witless word-grenades at me, simply because my preference for a different team offends you. Yeah. I get especially good kicks out of it when you tell me if I like Tennessee so much, maybe I should move there – GREAT idea! Ah, but see, in the real world, intelligent folks move where the jobs are, and we have a job that supports our family here in Greenville. So, Greenville is where we are. I don’t need to move anywhere else. By that same reasoning, maybe we should just split South Carolina in half, since I hear the vast majority of people in the Upstate cheer for a certain rowdy, orange-and-purple wearing, devil brigade.

Now, all phallic symbol joking aside (really), the “C-cks” and their fans love them some football. Yes, I refuse to spell it all the way out, and also to wear any garments or hats adorned with it, decorate my car with stickers that declare I am a “C-ck Fan,” “C-ck Dad,” “C-ck Mom,” “C-ck Sister,” or any other penile afficionado. Good season, bad season…these people are the real deal when it comes to fanhood. They make violent gangs of Colombian drug smugglers look both civilized and almost zen-like in comparison. Let’s just say, they’re very dedicated fans. I get that, and I respect that. I mean, honestly, South Carolina fans are among the most dedicated in the world. That’s fine. But I like my team, and it’s not South Carolina, and frankly, I have NEVER been yelled at or verbally abused over my Tennessee preference by a Clemson fan. Or an Alabama fan. Or a Georgia fan. And I have never verbally abused a fan of another team, because it’s just not cool to cuss out somebody simply because they’re cheering for the other team. And this post is meant for the “C-ck” fans who act like that – so if you think you’re not one of them, then don’t be upset.

Here’s my point, as we enter the next football season: For the South Carolina fans who seek out conflict, who always have an arsenal of discourtesy ready for everyone around them who doesn’t love “C-cks” as much as they do, may you have a great season full of opportunities to berate traitors of “the cause.” I hope you do! Wonderful for you! I mean that, seriously. No, really. But I’m a Tennessee fan – always have been, always will be. My husband is a die-hard Tennessee fan, and in all likelihood, our kids will also be. So, you should probably get used to it. Stop saying derogatory and crude remarks about women from Tennessee or women who are fans. Stop using any number of middle-school-level insults to back up your opinion (i.e. “You’re ugly anyway, makes sense that you’d cheer for Tennessee,” “You’re butt is too big to cheer for South Carolina,” what?). Stop yelling racist things at black fans of the opposing team (I have witnessed this, personally, and it’s disgusting behavior). Stop joking about how you’re going to “turn [my kid] into a ‘C-ck’ fan” (it won’t work, he already appears to like girls quite a bit). Stop telling me I’m stupid and my team sucks. Stop telling me South Carolina should’ve been the SEC champs last year, because…well, you weren’t. Stop yelling in my ear that you’re so much better than my team – because frankly, this year, you very well may be and I’m okay with it, so who are you really trying to convince?

Basically, “C-ck” fans, get over it: I don’t cheer for your team, I cheer for someone else. Everybody on Earth does not have to cheer for your team. You probably wouldn’t want a fan like me cheering for your guys anyway, as I absolutely cannot take the abbreviated version of your mascot seriously to save my life. It’s not a personal affront to you that I don’t cheer for your team (though this blog post kind of is). Get over it, have a great season, worry about your own stuff, and – of course – Go Vols.

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