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Sports Talk: Loyalty doesn't leave a game early

As a lover of football, last weekend was a big one for me. I was privileged to attend two championship games and see my alma maters win them both. Lincoln County defeated Washington-Wilkes 25-0 on Friday night for the Class A State Championship. On Saturday night, the University of Georgia smacked around LSU 34-14 for the Southeastern Conference Championship. Neither game was as close as the score would indicate.

About the only emotional investment I have in Lincoln County football now is that several of their players are sons of my high school classmates. The fact that Larry Campbell was my coach in high school also makes me want to see them do well. Also, when I viewed Washington-Wilkes while standing on Lincoln County soil, my true colors rose to the surface.

As I understand it, Washington-Wilkes came into the game missing a handful of players due to injuries and suspensions. They played very hard in the game but from my vantage point, unless one of the missing was Herschel Walker it would not have changed the outcome.

The most shocking thing to me at the game was the way the Wilkes Countians abandoned their team midway through the third quarter. I am going to assume they were pulling for the Tigers because they were wearing blue and sitting on that side of the stadium.

Lincoln County led 6-0 at halftime and just missed being up by two touchdowns when an interception was returned to the Tiger one-yard line on the last play. When the Red Devils scored to make it 12-0 early in the third quarter the fan exodus started as a slow trickle. Later in the quarter, when Lincoln County went up 19-0, the folks rushed to the exits like they were missing a giant Christmas sale on the square in Washington.

I couldn't for the life of me fathom why they did this. It was not like they had to ride hundreds of miles across the state to get home before sunup. Giving them the benefit of the doubt, perhaps many had to get up early on Saturday morning to milk cows or something. Whatever their reasons, it had to be a discouraging sight for the Washington-Wilkes players and coaches.

Saturday night at the Georgia Dome was like a replay, except the Tigers were wearing purple instead of blue. LSU's under-40 fan group is easily the most obnoxious group I've ever been around. They specialize in weird Mardi Gras costumes, beads and in-your-face attitudes. They pride themselves in creating an intimidation factor for fans of their opponent.

Their problem is, as is often the case, those who love dishing it out the most can't take it in return. The LSU section of the stadium was practically empty midway through the fourth quarter. Unlike those from Wilkes County though, these folks were a long way from home. I even heard some of them mumbling on their way out that this disaster is George Bush's fault.

Georgia will return to Atlanta on Monday night, Jan. 2, to play the West Virginia Mountaineers in the Sugar Bowl. West Virginia's only loss this season was to Virginia Tech. They qualified for the game by winning the championship of the now diluted Big East Conference.

LSU will also play again in the Georgia Dome when they face Miami in the Peach Bowl. I don't see many of their fans returning to the sight of Saturday night's debacle. The Tiger fans had their sights set on the displaced Sugar Bowl, hoping to lend it the Louisiana flavor that will be missing this year.

No doubt about it, last weekend was a good one unless you are a Tiger. Right now, I can't for the life of me imagine why I would ever want to be one. I just wouldn't fit in. I believe in staying until the end of the game regardless of the score, the weather, fanny fatigue or the distance from home.

I call that loyalty.



Web posted on Thursday, December 8, 2005











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