Razorback Nation: Part 3
Who Do YOU Think You Are?
As I have alluded to a couple of times, I was involved in a little virtual verbal dust-up a few weeks ago on Twitter with another fan. We had different opinions about a topic. He said what he had to say and then promptly blocked me before I could answer.
Now, I have no problem whatsoever with folks who disagree with me, only the ones that are disagreeable.
In his parting shot, though, he told me – a perfect stranger that he knew absolutely nothing about – that I couldn’t call myself a Razorback; I was only a fan. While he had graduated from the University, complete with having a brick on the senior walk, all I ever did was turn on the television and watch.
As completely false as that comment was, on many levels, it still pierced my heart like a dagger. I have always called myself a Razorback, and I know many others that do, that are not U of A alumni.
To help make myself feel better, I took a quick little Twitter survey and asked two questions: first, do you call yourself a Razorback even if you didn’t graduate from there, and second, if you did graduate from the U of A, does it bother you if someone else calls themself a Razorback that didn’t graduate from there?
And, as they say on Family Feud, the survey said…..
85.7% voted yes, they do call themselves a Razorback no matter where they graduated from and only 16.7% of those graduating from the U of A are bothered that they do so.
Even though I knew in my heart that the majority of folks were going to agree with me, it still comforted me to know I was not alone.
I AM a Razorback.
Growing up in Arkansas, you almost are one simply by default. That is our team, who we support and cheer for. I spent my whole childhood and adolescence preparing myself for the day I would be officially on campus. Arkansas Football was a staple for me growing up – games at War Memorial, Fayetteville, Cotton Bowls, you name it. It never even occurred to me until much later that I might not attend classes there.
And there are so many others like me. We eat, sleep, breathe and bleed Razorback red. My brother-in-law was one of the biggest fans I’d ever met. He was a truck driver and lived for the sports talk radio shows to help him pass the time, and if he could call in and talk Hogball, he would. He would park his rigjust outside the baseball field when time and scheduling permitted, just to watch a little. When he passed, my husband and I got some of his things – a Razorback apron for grilling, a barstool for sitting, and a pickup truck with Razorback seat covers, floor mat, and a Hog covering the trailer hitch. He had no formal education after high school, but he was a Razorback.
I think about all the fans all over that are glued to their radios or televisions when they can’t attend a game. My family are farmers, and the start of football season overlaps with harvest time. That might have prevented them from being in the stands on those crisp fall afternoons, but not from following the game. They would just take their radios with them on the combines and listen in (now the combines are equipped with satellite radios and cell phones can stream television so they never have to miss a minute.) My husband recalls being at the Arkansas State Fair as a child and standing outside the Hall of Industry and listening with other fairgoers as games were broadcast over the speakers. I’m a CPA and my busy season overlaps with basketball season but I still have the games on in the background while I work so I don’t miss anything. Every time my husband and I have moved our first question at the new location is “how are we going to be able to watch the Hogs?”
I know that modern technology makes it easier than it was when I was growing up. I still have old cassette tapes of Bud Campbell – the voice of the Razorbacks before Paul Eells – that my dad would make so he could listen to the games again if needed. Now, we have multiple apps that we can use to watch or listen (sometimes both simultaneously when the SEC Network or ESPN has commentators we don’t like) that makes being a part of the game even easier.
I would suspect that most of you are just like us. You and your family members may have graduated from other colleges or universities or chosen a path that led to the military or straight into the workforce instead, but it doesn’t change the fact that you ARE a Razorback. We’ve all gone to lengths at times to listen in when we couldn’t get a ticket, or the games were away,or we were away.
We can’t help it; we were born this way. It just part of the Razorback DNA.
Being a Razorback is more a state of mind than it is a piece of paper. It’s not just bricks on a senior walk but walks through levies in rice fields with your earbuds in. It’s grabbing that first newborn onesie with the Hog on it and a cute hat and envisioning that it may someday turn into a graduate’s mortarboard. It isn’t just the filled seats in the stands, it’s the filled souls of those listening across the miles and cheering from wherever their “seat” is currently.
To the 16.7% of my survey that are bothered by the rest of us calling ourselves Razorbacks, I’m sorry. I always intended to graduate from the University but when the time came, I had to make a different decision that fit me better at the time. But I still went to the Razorback games, and I still called the Hogs, and if you ask me today I’ll still say I’m a Razorback, but I graduated from Hendrix College.
I am a lifelong member of Razorback Nation.
And my small postscript since I finished this: in light of Coach Mike Leach’s passing this week, aren’t we all just a little bit Bulldog Nation, too, right now? Rest in peace, Coach.