No one to blame but themselves
By David Wasson
March 20, 2002
After very careful consideration of as many facts, opinions, innuendo, flat-out lies and boisterous flaming over the last few months, I have come to the following conclusions about the Alabama-NCAA mess:
1. Overzealous Alabama fans are the ones who put the Crimson Tide even deeper in the boiling pot of soup the program now finds itself in.
2. If those same morons keep pestering the NCAA with e-mails and the constant chatter about the decisions handed down regarding the football team, they will be the ones with a different crimson on their hands the next time the athletic department so much as stubs its toe.
In being careful not to paint everyone with the same wide brush, it is imperative to point out that not everyone with a Crimson Tide door flag or Bear Bryant lithograph on their living-room wall should be implicated.
Nor are the well-meaning, more erudite Alabama followers like Bryan Alexander of Harvest, who wrote a fine (if, at over 3,000 words -- or about six times longer than this column -- outrageously too long) piece entitled "A Bama Fan's Honest Assessment," which can be found on the Web at www.tiderinsider.com/forum/classics/020223-1.html.
No, the kind of fan I am referring to, sadly, are some of Mr. Alexander's more, shall we say, persistent mates on Internet sites and the deep-pocketed,
ethically challenged boosters that lurk around the fringes.
Let's deal with the boosters first. Maybe you've heard of them. Logan Young. Wendell Smith. Raymond Keller. All three disassociated from the Alabama program as part of a self-inflicted punishment late last year.
These people, for lack of a better term, are jock-sniffers. Maybe they were cut from their Pop Warner "Volunteers" team at age 11. Maybe the elementary school bully wore an Auburn sweatshirt to school.
No matter. These are people who use their cash to influence teen-agers into signing with their school, ignoring the rules the school has agreed to play by.
This brings us to the second category - the overzealous fans who promulgate fan-run "information" Web sites and are at this very moment corkscrewing themselves into the ground not only over the mess boosters have caused Alabama, but the very words you are reading.
It doesn't take a college education to understand the basic reasoning behind fandom. People develop a connection, either genuine or constructed, to a sports program, and they want to see their team - any team -- do well.
Great. Fill those stadiums. Buy that memorabilia. Chant those fight songs.
But well-meaning fans end up being uber-fans when they spend every waking hour online dissecting who is in line for the third-team left guard spot or who the "secret witness" is that implicated Alabama.
The answer to that final question, sadly, isn't an easy one - if there even is an answer at all.
And if there is an answer for those ultra Alabama fans who are reading to the end of this just to get my e-mail address and begin blaming me for their lot in life, that answer might end up hitting a little too close to home.
Sports Editor David Wasson can be reached at 740-5757 or firstname.lastname@example.org