Over the years, being a fan is the derivitive of the word fanatic.
Sometimes, it’s a good thing, sometimes a bad one.
My love of Temple and my hatred of the “bad guys” (anybody playing Temple) sometimes got the best of me but, over the last decade, I’ve matured and become more welcoming to the fans who wear other colors than Cherry and White.
I have a lot of people to thank for that, specifically some terrific hosts of tailgates–like Steve Conjar and Sheldon Morris–who I’ve been able to learn from and adopt their attitudes.
Mostly, watching them becoming good Ambassadors for Temple football, I’ve come to conclusion is a win-win for the program. When one group of fans from another school travels home, they can say what a terrific experience they had in Philadelphia with the Temple fans.
The fans you meet in person are often less aggravating than the ones who make antagonist comments about the Owls on the internet.
Take last Saturday, for instance.
The Sheldon Morris Group–which includes some of the great Bruce Arians’ players like Joe Greenwood, Paul Palmer and Mike Hinnant (to name a few)–welcomed a few South Florida fans into their post-game tailgate.
“It’s how we do,” was the way Joe Greenwood described it.
Despite the loss, those guys had a great time and will take the story back home to Tampa.
Maybe next year, the South Florida fans will recipocate.
I’ve had a few terrific experiences on the road, including one at UConn in 2012. Myself and the late great Phil Makowski were walking around in the parking lot at Rentschler Field and a couple asked us about Temple and we got into an interesting hour conversation about Eastern football, other universities and towns. They introduced us to two more UConn fans and so on and so forth. The Husky fans could not have been nicer.
The next year, we returned the favor at the Temple tailgates.
I’ve found the nicest fans are the Navy fans, but I’ve never been to a game at Army. Notre Dame fans were terrific both in South Bend and at Lincoln Financial Field. A steady stream of green-cladded Irish walked up my aisle as I sat dejected after a 24-20 loss in 2015 and shook my hand and said things like, “Keep your head up, you have a great team.”
Even though, we all root for different teams, the thing that binds us is our love of college football and our schools.
Empathy is wonderful but it’s learned and not inherited. UConn is going through a tough time now–as we went through once–and it’s important to win and party with class and Temple, largely, has done that thanks to a special group of people.
Hopefully, the goodwill reflects as positively on the university as the play of the kids wearing Cherry and White does.
Sunday: Game Analysis