Texas A&M welcomed fans to Kyle Field at 100% capacity for the first time in almost two years last Saturday, and while the sight of more than 97,000 Aggies decked out in red, white and blue was awe-inspiring, apparently Texas A&M leadership took issue with some of the things coming from the Texas A&M student section. Most notably, the chanting of “bullshit” following several penalties called on the Aggies. That led to this letter to the 12th Man from the Texas A&M Yell Leaders account on Twitter.
I get not condoning profanity, as Kyle Field has always prided itself as being a family friendly atmosphere. But I think the rest of this letter speaks to a larger culture at A&M. One of being “classy” and “a cut above.” We pride ourselves in having one of the most welcoming environments in college football. Aggies love yelling for their team, but we often like being nice even more. And look, I’m one of the most people-pleasing, non-confrontational people you’ll ever meet. By virtually every definition of the word, I’m “nice.” But I’m here to tell you that at Aggie football games, we could stand to have a little bit less of it.
In a world filled with gray areas, one of the great pleasures of sports is how black and white good and evil and right and wrong can be portrayed. Our team is the good guys, the other team is the bad guys, and the refs could the good guys or the bad guys on any given play. Cheering for your own team is awesome, but so is rooting against your opponent. So is showing your angst when the refs make a bogus call. And oh my goodness, please don’t tell me that hissing is somehow more elevated than booing. Showing your disapproval in a less culturally recognized (and honestly, barely audible) way doesn’t make it classier, it just removes others’ ability to understand your intent. I love the many distinctive things that we do as fans that make this such a unique place to watch a football game, but hissing isn’t one of them.
Nobody is saying that Aggies should start being assholes. We should always be welcoming to opposing fans. Invite them to your tailgate, buy them a beer on Northgate, and wish them safe travels on their way home. Treat them with the basic respect that every person deserves. But make no mistake, from the time the ball is kicked off until the clock hits zero, they are the enemy.
The (good-natured) hostility between fanbases is part of what makes college football great. It’s possible to be a hostile football environment while falling short of anything actually threatening. You can be a good fan without being a Boy Scouts (or Girl Scout). Being fan is about rooting for one side over another, and that won’t always be best accomplished by letting the core values of excellence, integrity, leadership, loyalty, respect and selfless service guide our every move.
Sports, above all else, should be fun. And make no mistake, rooting against our opponent and booing a bad call is fun. Gig ‘em.