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Razorback Nation: A House Divided, part one

NCAA Basketball: South Dakota State at Arkansas Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier this week I was working on a post about giving thanks, and while it might seem unusual to some, thanks for what sports in general and the Razorbacks specifically have brought to me in terms of memories with my family. Trips to Cotton Bowls where 8 folks were piled into one big 1970s-era car or a first time plane trip; memories of eating Thanksgiving lunch in a Dallas hotel before heading to the Cowboy game; watching rivalry games at Florida State in the aftermath of a hurricane and all our clothes faded from the salt water; rolling up the Pig Trail on Saturday mornings to get “our spot” on the hill outside Razorback stadium and eating AQ Chicken afterward; getting to meet Ribby on my first ever baseball game earlier this year as a gift from my sister. Precious memories with family members no longer with me.

But then something happened.

Social media broke the news on Thursday that Myles Slusher was no longer a part of the team. He had posted a picture of himself in Tulsa, and we all knew the team was in Columbia, Missouri. As happens often on social media, the situation escalated. Opinions were given. Threads got long. Names were hurled about. Words were said in anger. Racial accusations were thrown. Fans blocked each other.

Just a typical “family” Thanksgiving, right?

I was right in the mix of it myself. I gave my opinion and had to defend it to some and was supported by others and, yes, even I got blocked by one person, after some very strong words were shared. He did not go as far as to say my mama wore Army boots, but it was close.

That was hard for me because I am the Perpetual Pollyanna Personality. In my world, we may disagree but we can all shake hands and move on. Agree to disagree. There are some topics about which no one will ever be on the same page and that’s okay. As my dad used to say, that’s why they make chocolate and vanilla ice cream – something for everyone. It doesn’t have to get ugly. Everything will be okay if everyone will just calm down.

And then Friday happened.

Friday was a tough loss, no question. It’s like someone posted – they wanted the LSU defense and the Ole Miss first half offense to both show up at the same time. But they didn’t. And we came up two points short. Again.

And the House of Razorbacks divided further.

Blame the coaches! Think about the injuries! It’s a different team this year! We need new leadership! We lost nineteen Super Seniors! It’s only Year 3! The locker room will empty next week into the portal! If Rocket Sanders can get 1,000 yards rushing before mid-season how does that mean the OC is horrible? But he didn’t even get 200 yards in the remaining games so Briles must go! Who will stand with me to have Coach Pittman’s back?! The Coach doesn’t support his players!

Once again, social media was in an uproar.

A virtual Black Friday scene with the carnage across all the timelines.

And I get it.

Razorback Nation is a passionate bunch. How many of us stayed up until almost midnight on Wednesday night to watch our Alohogs in the Maui Invitational? Our house did and fromwhat I saw on Twitter, so did a ton of other folks. There was no division there! Kamani (or KaMaui as some were calling him) was the player of the game and what those Hogs did without Nick Smith, Jr. makes this team look unstoppable clear into March.

So, I guess that is what bothers me some. When we win, for the most part we stand together. I say for the most part because there will almost and forever be a small percentage of people that can’t even be happy with a win and will always grumble about something (yes, I wish they had hit more free throws and we wouldn’t have been in a situation where Kamani had to put up that last split-second rebound but let’s ENJOY the win for minute!) but when we lose, it becomes knives out.

More than one person commented they were ready to move onto basketball season after Friday’s loss and got blistered for “not being a fan.” The University of Arkansas fields teams in nineteen sports – you do not have to love all of them to be a fan. If we forced all fans to be present for all sports then I’m guessing there’s going to be some that are less enthusiastic than others when it comes to swimming, or diving, or gymnastics, or soccer, or golf, or track and field.

That is why they make chocolate and vanilla and strawberry and rocky road and mint and butter pecan ice creams.

Something for everyone and Neapolitan if you don’t want to choose just one.

But we’re still a family, right? When we gathered together with our families just two days ago to pause and reflect on all things for which we are grateful – our health, food on the table, time with family we don’t see often, a roof over our heads, jobs – we all didn’t agree on everything. Families never do. You may have Democrats and Republicans around the table together; Protestants and Catholics; Methodists and Baptists; Razorbacks and Tigers or Rebels or Bulldogs.

Families can by complicated. Being a Razorback fan can be complicated. We can all agree when we see a problem – having a losing or 50/50 season is definitely viewed as a problem – but we will never all agree on the solution. There are too many options and, like a 20-sided Dungeons and Dragons die, sometimes it is a crapshoot as to which avenue to try first to get a fix in.

But let’s be civil with each other. Ultimately, we all want the same things. We want our young men and women to play hard, play fair, represent us well on the national stages, and to win. As I’ve said before, support breeds success. A united fanbase, even if we’re only united in one thing – to get a W – means more support for OUR teams.

That may mean you have to be the bigger person sometimes and virtually walk away from an angry poster. Don’t get involved to the point that they are dragging you down. Say your piece and move on. Mute the conversation if you have to so they are talking to themselves. Support when you can, referee when you need to.

But let’s remember, at the end of the day, we are still OneRazorback. We win together. We lose together.