Joined: Feb 2004
I Root For: Fresh Starts
RE: Week 5 Attendance
(10-03-2011 05:30 PM)BMarkey Wrote: Regarding the "culture" of State of Alabama sports, it used to be (and to some die-hards) still is believed that as a resident, you state your allegiance for Alabama or Auburn, no matter where (or if) you went there, or if anyone in your family went there.
Just a few years ago, public elementary, middle and high schools would have a college pride day (or something like that) and tell their students to wear their Bama or Burn gear. Some Troy, UAB and probably even Jax State, USA and UNA people started fighting back and now, from what I hear, those special days see a lot of other gear choices worn. It's a start of a long change process.
Some of my fraternity brothers from the '80s who were born and raised in Alabama (and attended Troy when it was in DII and not a real competitor to Bama and Burn, which Troy now beats in baseball, basketball and other sports) continue to insist to me that "Bama or Burn" is the way it is. They say it is perfectly acceptable to go to Troy while sporting a Bama or Burn tag on your car, wear those schools' gear to Troy or another state school, skip a Troy or other game to watch Bama or Burn in the tailgate area, fraternity house or elsewhere, or even leave Troy on a game weekend to go to Birmingham or Tuscaloosa to be part of the Iron Bowl, even if they can't get tickets to the game.
It's just the "culture", the way it is, they tell me. That outdated, lack-of-pride mentality has caused a bit of a rift in my alumni association over the past few years. Some of the old-timers do not seem to even realize how disgraceful and disloyal their behavior is to the school that gave them their careers, family and great friends and helped them grow into, hopefully, responsible adults. They are disconnected to the new Troy and I don't believe Troy is doing enough to bring them back into the family, and back to a campus they might not even recognize.
I vehemently disagree with their philosophy and point out to them that the culture is already changing - not fast enough for me and the true 10,000 to 12,000 Trojans in Veterans Memorial Stadium each game, but changing nevertheless. The number of people on the Troy campus showing pride in their own school is way up. Some Troy gear can now even be found for sale in stores outside of the Wiregrass - even in Birmingham, Montgomery and the Florida panhandle. Troy just signed a 100,000-watt FM radio station to carry football and basketball games to the entire Florida panhandle. More and more people know about Troy now. I was even asked about the school down here in Boynton Beach the other night. It's a hard fight, especially now because of the re-emergence of Bama and Burn and all the bandwagon fans those accomplishments bring.
There is hope. I am seeing more and more of the recent grads and younger alumni following Troy on Facebook and elsewhere, supporting Troy financially and in the seats, and even dressing their small children in Trojan garb (very important in growing fans).
The culture change will happen in Alabama the way it has definitely happened and continues in Florida. The term "Big Three" is not used that much in the Sunshine State media here any more with the emergence of USF, UCF and FAU (to some extent), and now FIU. Miami's problems and losses, FSU's decline (until this year) and the slight decline at UF have helped spur the change into a state that features at least seven I-A choices. The larger schools in the state are the relative newcomers. Of course, it helps that Florida is so transient and that many newcomers are just as likely to become fans of the newer entries to I-A than the "Big Three."
I think the key for the long-term (terrible short-term strategy) is to have a vocal fan base that calls out the big dogs for refusing to play and is strident in having a "our school, our colors" attitude. Doesn't hurt to applaud and cheer when the big dogs lose.
It costs you fans initially who are OFFENDED that anyone dare be negative about the state sanctioned religion but you get rid of the soft fans who abandon you the first time you lose a game or the weather is too hot, too cold, too windy, too rainy, or your game conflicts with the epic TV battle involving the big dog.
You have to measure progress in decades, not game by game or season by season.
Eventually you might get lucky and some of those loud-mouth 20 year-olds who buy into "our colors, our team" is 55 years old, succesful in business, has the kids out of college and starts putting money into your program instead of being a waffler who is giving to the big dog so they can impress others with their access to the big dog program.