If you’ve ever tuned into Joy620 between 6 and 8 a.m., you know I like to give my opinion. But on this particular subject, you’ve probably heard lots of opinions. The Tennessee v. Ole Miss game has been talked about all over the country; people who couldn’t spell Tennessee or Mississippi are talking about that football game. I have an opinion; are you surprised? I’m not sure who would want to hear it, but I’ll do my best to make it worth your time, if you do choose to read on.
First off, there are no doubts that there were many questionable calls throughout the night. A fumble, scoop, and score was denied, and literally pulled seven points out of Tennessee’s tally in the first half. And that’s just one example. In the second half, Ole Miss suddenly had a rash of defensive injuries, especially when Tennessee’s offense was rolling at break-neck speed.
Just in case you think I’m strictly wearing orange-colored glasses here, I concede that Tennessee did the same thing . . . a couple of times. But with the Rebels it was every third play.
Aside from that frustration, there was a tremendous amount of energy and alcohol in the building. Emotions were running high – what an understatement, eh? The odds looked good for Tennessee to finally knock off a top 15 team, and we were excited. Although Tennessee still lacks in roster numbers and overall talent, Josh Heupel has clearly changed the culture. For the first time in four years, the stadium was sold out.
Now the fact of the matter is, as much poor officiating as we witnessed last Saturday just shouldn’t happen. BUT, under no circumstances should there have been anything thrown from the stands. Not a golf ball. Not a mustard bottle. Not water bottles. Not beer cans. And not the typical random detritus that litters the stadium at the end of every game, including, as documented in one photo, a Papa John’s Pizza box.
If you have reached a point in your life where you cannot keep your emotions in check at a football game, you should lose your privilege to attend the game. That will be the punishment, at least for one year, for those who were caught on camera committing these offences. It ruins the experience for the other fans and the players.
Maybe there were Ole Miss players down on the field taunting the fans as empty cans and not-so-empty bottles became projectiles. But regardless of their response to adversity, and their preference to lay on the turf for extended periods of time in the middle of their opponent’s possession, those are just college kids down there, who showed up to play football. One of them could easily be your friend, your brother, your son, your cousin, your nephew or grandson. Fourteen of Mississippi’s players hail from somewhere in Tennessee. Were the roles reversed, we genuinely hope our boys never get treated like that.
I would also like to add that those who threw the various junk on the field don’t represent the vast majority of Tennessee fans, myself included. Not any more than the few fans in Oxford, Mississippi who threw debris on their basketball court one night after playing the University of Tennessee (February, 2019). Not all Gators fans throw bodily fluids on players. Not all Auburn fans throw frozen oranges. What I’m getting at is this: the parts do not represent the whole. Don’t judge the entire fanbase by the poor choices of a few.
On a more eternal note, please, if you’re on the outside looking in, don’t judge all fans of Jesus by the select few that behave badly. And know this, we all make mistakes. The behavior you witness could be stemming from any number of stressors. Ever had a conversation with someone who just buried a loved one? The behavior of one moment does not a man make. Christianity is extraordinary because all believers make mistakes, and every believer is guaranteed forgiveness from the Father. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” – Romans 3:23. So, yes, fans of Jesus can behave badly, but that doesn’t mean being a fan of Jesus is bad.
Extend the grace and understanding you would hope gets extended to you in each and every one of your passions, Tennessee football included.
And hold on to your golf balls, ok? That ain’t doin’ Jesus to nobody, I’m just sayin’.