Agnostic Humanist In The South, LGBTQ Support

Empathy and Football

239590991_56b070c7fe_b(Also known as OIL and WATER.)

This post is about empathy. If you can get through the football talk, I do finally come to a point at the end.

I have a hard time during Football season in Alabama. There’s two popular teams: Auburn and Alabama. You MUST choose one. Many people tend to bet on some of these as well. My friend told me that they go to websites like for safe and secure betting. I always tell people that I grew up a TN Vol fan, was die hard for a long time, then I met Donnie. His happiness hangs on the outcome of Alabama games, and I realized mine didn’t. I’d rather see HIM happy than MY TEAM win. So, while I still pull for the Vols, I wear Alabama gear because I want to see my husband happy. Even if I back Vols in our FanDuel league.

BUT – My Facebook feed is about half and half. And people are VERY SERIOUS about their football around here. And it’s CRAZY AS SHIT. People posts statuses or links to pictures or articles that basically have one point: YOUR TEAM SUCKS. I always do my periodic FB status reminding people: Isn’t it nice to post things that say, “MY TEAM IS AWESOME!” instead of, “YOUR TEAM SUCKS”? Because – you know – I feel like I’d rather see SUPPORT than RIDICULE. But, it falls on super deaf ears and I’m the annoying Mom at the birthday part who is telling her kid to be quiet even though all of the other kids are screaming like maniacs.

I’m basically one giant buzzkill.

But I see a post that basically says all Bama fans are dumbass rednecks, or a graphic that says Auburn fans are just jealous of the Alabama dynasty or I’ll see people just referring to their team as playing “real” football and another person’s team as being “babies” or any NUMBER of childish insults and y’all?


I was with someone once who KNEW my husband was a Bama fan but they were an Auburn fan and they said, “All Bama fans are stupid rednecks. They’re the worst fans ever.” My husband just rolled his eyes and laughed it off but I WAS SEETHING. And then I was around Alabama fans who were making fun of Auburn fans and their attachment to Toomer’s Oaks. AND I WAS SEETHING.

But everyone does it. EVERYONE. People who are normally nice and sweet will post things on Facebook trashing the “other” team and their fans and I just DO NOT GET IT.

I grew up in a town where 90% of the people were TN Vol fans. Very rarely did I have to worry about hurting anyone’s feelings. BUT! One time I watched a game at a house and there was ONE person wearing a Georgia hat (we were playing Georgia) and so I toned it down. I cheered when we scored, and cheered when we stopped them from scoring…OF COURSE…but I didn’t join in on any of the Georgia Trash Talk. But other people were and LOVING throwing it in that guys face. “Where’s your team, dude? Is this the local Pee Wee team that showed up?” They were being ASSHOLES and in the end? I started secretly pulling for Georgia just so this guy could rub it in their faces.


So. This obviously relates to my level of Empathy, right? Even though I’m pretty certain most football fans that dish it out, can actually take it, I still don’t like it because I’m worried someone is going to get their feelings hurt. More importantly – I AM GETTING MY FEELINGS HURT. But still, I keep thinking about the quiet fans who don’t stir up shit but are still VERY passionate about their team and they are seeing the same stuff I’m seeing and they’re just trying to ignore it.

I just don’t get it. Why would you post something that insults people in your community? Do you think it’s fun? Do you honestly NOT CARE if people get upset? Is that the point? Do you LIKE upsetting people on the other side?

I just want to say when I see these posts:

I’m doing a Football Fan Survey. Please answer the following questions:
1. Do you realize this status/post is going to offend some of your friends/peers?
2. Do you enjoy that it offends them?
3. Do you think they should NOT be offended because you wouldn’t be offended?
4. Do you, therefore, not CARE if they’re offended because – since it wouldn’t bother you it shouldn’t bother them?
5. Do you do it for the PURPOSE of upsetting them?
6. Do you consider it payback because you get upset by the stuff they post all the time?

I mean, I really DO NOT GET IT and am trying to.

And yes, I know this is STUPID. Empathy and Alabama Football do NOT go together. I’m just going to have to survive this season the way I survive every season. Trying NOT to remember who posts the mean stuff on Facebook so that I can continue to like these people the rest of the year. And I have to remember: THIS CULTURE IS NOT FOR ME. I have too much empathy for it.

BUT: This microcosm – this world of Alabama football – is such a good example of the way I react to a lot of the world. You’re not supposed to talk religion or politics, but you CAN talk football. But people handle religion and politics the same way. I’ve seen no less than ONE DOZEN people post a meme basically blasting the atheists for wanting to remove the cross at ground zero. Several posts referred to the atheists as “THEM” like they were some sort of entity that should be destroyed. And here I am, an atheist, trying not to take it all so personally. When people say, “Our country is failing because we don’t pray anymore” and things like that – you are putting the problems in this country on MY shoulders. And I take it personally.

But I can’t come out and say, “You blaming everything bad on people like me hurts my feelings” because that’s talking religion and politics and I don’t want to upset people. And I’m embarrassed. Why do I have such a thin skin? Why do I get upset so easily? So I bring it back to football and I say, “Hey! Maybe focus more on posting things to support the team you LIKE instead of the team you HATE,” then it kinda gets the same point across, right?

I don’t know. I’m just getting my feelings hurt SO MUCH lately by stupid Facebook. If I didn’t love it some much (I still want to keep up with person who blames everything that’s wrong with kids these days on taking prayer out of school) I would probably walk away. I’m sick of people blaming non-Christians and a lack of religion/prayer for all of the bad things in this country/world. I AM A GOOD PERSON. Just because I choose to worship ZERO of the gods of global religions where you worship ONE of them, doesn’t mean I have no morals or ethics. I have a VERY strong believe in right/wrong and I’m raising my kids with VERY clear concepts of morality. Atheists are not bad people.

And politics. A family member left a comment on someone’s status last week saying – and this is a quote, “I just don’t know how anyone who loves this country can continue to vote Democrat.” Do you know that – because I voted for and support Democrats doesn’t mean that I’m 100% on board with everything they do? I supported Clinton too, but I still want to punch him in the face for being part of DoMA. I did NOT vote for Bush but I still supported a lot of the Medicare reform he helped push. (Don’t get me started on how angry I get when I see my liberal friends post things that basically say all Republicans hate the poor.) The funny things was, until seeing that comment, I thought that family member was a Democrat. HA! Guess not? But my point – posting that comment insulted an entire group within his community – does he know it upset me? Does he care? I couldn’t even respond to him because the status was made by someone I’m not friends with. Why does Facebook show me things I can’t comment on?

Another perfect example: Memes that refer to all people on government assistance as lazy and unproductive members of society. I spent several years milking all I could out of the government while I tried to make ends meet working and going to college. YOU UPSET ME WITH YOUR GENERALIZATIONS.

I feel like that – in order to live my life to the fullest – I have to keep people in my life who are different from me. My Christians friends are very important to me, as are my Conservative friends. I would never want to offend them with anything I say or do. I need Alabama fans AND Auburn fans in my life. So, I worry every day about keeping everyone in my life because they make my life better. And I do things that screw that up sometimes, I have posted comments on articles my liberal friends post and I tend to forget my conservative friends can see it…and so they get hurt by my words.

(True Story: Found out a friend was VERY anti-gay marriage that way. Someone who knows the members of my family who are gay and how much they mean to me. Remember, people. Your comments can be seen by your friends if the FB algorithm decides it’s something you want to see.)

So, I’ve offended people before and I feel AWFUL about it. But it’s always an “accident” in that, I thought I was in a room with only TN Vol fans when I was bashing your football team. That is NOT a good excuse, but sometimes we feel safe surrounded by like-minded people. And I need to remember all of my words can be seen online. I need to save the bashing for the privacy of my own home. So, I’m more careful now. I save my outrage for in my home.

(Because I’m not going to pretend like I don’t get ragey and bash people/ideas/groups. I do have to vent.)

Maybe I should changed my cover photo to say something like, “I’m a Sensitive Liberal Atheist Who Hates All Alabama/Auburn Trash Talk. Please Do Not Friend Me If You Are Going To Post Things That Make Me Cry. I Cry Very Easily.”

It’s just this time of year that reminds me SO AGGRESSIVELY how different I am from many in the world. Or at least many in my FB feed. And so I kinda hate football season on Facebook. I’m constantly fretting about people getting their feelings hurt by all of these aggressive posts. If I could figure out how to block all football statuses I’d be SO VERY HAPPY.

I wrote this post very upset and blubbery (DAMN YOU FOOTBALL SEASON) and then edited it because the first draft was WAY too emotional. I also added more specific examples in because I worry being too general comes off as passive aggressive. So, if you’re reading in a feed reader? I’m sorry you get the stupid/raw/emotional/passive aggressive version of this post. I should probably edit BEFORE I publish but then that takes all of the fun out of blogging-while-ranting.

9 thoughts on “Empathy and Football”

  1. I am neither an AL, AU, or any college-team specific fan AND I was born and raised in Alabama! I just like watching college football. Give me a good game, regardless of who is playing, and I am happy.

    Although I do find it amusing at the number of people who are DIE HARD fans and have never attended either university nor have any connections to the university.

  2. Oh, man. I feel you! I took the kids to a Grissom game last year and I had so much fun just watching football and teaching the kids the rules! I actually have been known to just watch random games (especially NFL) by myself just because I miss football for the sake of football so much!

  3. My answers to all of your questions are yes. Don’t judge – unless you grew up here, you’ll never understand. Don’t even try! This may be overused but it’s really true. Save your empathy for something that matters to you – it might be helpful for you to know that we enjoy every minute 24/7, 365.

  4. Oh man. It upsets me that you are upset by this. I’m not going to try and talk you out of your feelings (duh) but maybe give you a different perspective that will make you not feel so awful? I think the thing you’ve overlooked is mutuality. So let me try and explain. Take out the truly irrational people from the equation (because you always have to do that when you’re talking about anything). And by irrational people, I mean people who would poison trees, or disown their children for attending the wrong school. That still leaves the vast majority of the people you interact with in daily life. Ok, for those people, what you are describing is (very weird) way of showing affection. Take your Georgia/Tennessee game example. I’ve been in those shoes many times. Here’s the thing – football doesn’t really matter. And, and I think this is the key, the guy getting ribbed? He knows that it’s only a matter of time before he gets to come back and rib the Tennessee fans. Teams have good seasons and bad. So you take the ribbing so that later, you can rib back. Of course if the person is actually getting upset, that’s a different ballgame (ha! punny!). But for most of the time, those people are friends and will be friends regardless. It’s more like telling “your momma” jokes.

    I think it is especially a form of showing affection among men, although women who are from the south and grow up in this culture (like me) will do the same. And I totally get what you’re saying: I’m a Huntsvillian that’s a liberal democratic Christian. So basically no one likes me (j/k) and I get upset by the political/religious posts you’re describing. But not the football. Because deep down, for everyone but the outlying irrational ones, most of that stuff (even the peewee football comments) are their way of saying – “Hey, I like hanging out with you. Tough loss. You’ll probably get to dish it out to me next year.”

  5. I mentioned this on Twitter, but you know, 140 characters and all. Now I get to make an extra! long! comment! 😀

    Last year there was a shooting that was reported as having something to do with a football game. I don’t know what exactly, I think a woman shot her sister at a party or something. I don’t know the details because they’re sketchy in media reports, it’s all a ton of people that were there with different stories. Anyway, someone posted on FB about how *horrible* the Alabama fanbase is, killing trees first and now they’re killing people, this just proved what she’d been saying all along.

    At the time, I was really sensitive to these kinds of stories because I had just lost a mentally ill cousin in really tragic circumstances and some truly horrific things were being said about him online. (Actually, still kind of sensitive. HR 3717 – call your representatives!) Stable people don’t just take a gun into a party and shoot people, and we owe it to victims–everyone involved, really–to be a little skeptical when we hear these stories, IMO. So I commented on her status that it really wasn’t about the game or being an Alabama fan and she just kept. on. insisting. that it was, saying that she wasn’t saying only the Alabama fanbase had “crazies” but it had the most, and that’s why it had bad rap.

    I want to bang my head against the wall just thinking about this again. A person’s first assumption is that a shooting was legitimately over the game, not that the shooter was mentally unwell, and then thinks that shooter is a decent enough representation of a large group of people to warrant any hate.

  6. This should make you feel good. But first, make sure you have no diet coke or coffee in your mouth. Swallow first. Otherwise it may come out our nose.

    When I first moved to Alabama I had no idea who Bear Bryant was. For real. There I was, standing behind my little cash register in the Shell gas station listening to my coworker flirt with the bread man vendor and they are talking up Alabama football and they mention Bear Bryant. Well, a name like Bear Bryant intrigues me so I ask, “Who’s Bear Bryant?” I’ll let you come up with your own scenario to their reply.

    I’ve learned to like college football. By the way, I’m a Georgia fan by marriage. Go Dawgs! 😉

  7. Okay, I just went back and read your post again, in full and paid more attention. I get it. If we don’t want to offend anyone then we should ALL be quiet and say absolutely nothing. But that would be ridiculous.

    I have been quiet for so long now that it is affecting/effecting me. I can’t be quiet anymore. I’m sorry if my posts offend you. I do not mean to offend “you” or anyone else, personally. When I share stuff on social media it is a reflection of how “I” feel. The beheadings of two American journalists have me undone and my heart and whole body aches for them and their families. I just don’t understand it. I am a mother. I have a son. And I am a human. When I see those images on television of those men on their knees… it just kills me Kim.

    Also, you know I am a believer but I don’t want prayer in school either. So at least we have that in common and I suspect we have much more in common than that too. 🙂

    I’ve always liked and admired you. We may not see eye to eye on everything but I know we both LOVE and have LOVE in our hearts. You may call it something else but whatever you call it, it is similar to what I feel too.

    Anyway… ((((hugs)))). FYI, I’ve started a separate and somewhat secret FB page/blog for all of my other crap so not to drag my liberal friends down on my personal account.

  8. Carol, I understand whole-heartedly. You know how/why my heart-breaking issue is LBGT teen suicide, so whenever I hear of ANOTHER story I just want to run around and shake people to wake them up. We all have our things that keep us up at night. I get it!

    And my friend knew the pilot who died in the crash in VA this week and I was so sad that it did not get enough attention.

    And my Dad had a huge issues with Veteran benefits and how crappy/slow they were. So that issue makes me rage based on his residual rage.

    We all have our “keep us up at night” issues and they make me SO PROUD. Because I would much rather you waking up in a cold sweat thinking about your son being beheaded (or me thinking about mine shooting himself) than NOTHING. Sometimes I see our friend and I can’t tell who cares about what! Does anyone care? So I’m VERY happy you care about something. ANYTHING to be honest.

    And I don’t exactly remember what you posted recently, to be honest, other than I worried you thought I didn’t care, or that I cared more about the nude pic news. (It’s weird – I find misogyny/rape culture to be a new hot topic for me, I think it’s because as Nyoka gets older I’m thinking about her in these situations more. I mean, I’ve always CARED, but these topics are becoming more important to me!)

    My main complaint is like with my conservative family mentioned here…so many people see the things they hate about Obama and therefore hate everyone who supports him. I can’t quit thinking about how that guy said that anyone who supports him obviously doesn’t care about our country. I voted in an election last week where only 5000 people in my district voted, I obviously care!

    And I also get frustrated because there are a lot of things I wanted Obama to do that I know my conservative friends would have hated (like I was a supporter of a single-payer healthcare model) but he couldn’t/didn’t do it because he didn’t have the support of Republicans in the house and Senate. The guy I elected can’t do all the things I want without the cooperation of the people you elected. It’s just a big huge organism and no one person should get the credit or the blame for anything. That’s my other thing. And it pissed me off when Bush was in office too, how all of my liberal friends would blame him entirely for any military action made under false pretenses. He didn’t do it without the support of Congress, why is he getting all of the blame? I just hate it when people blame the President for EVERYTHING and then won’t even vote in their local elections for Senate or Congress. Because, in reality, he can’t do a whole lot without them!

    And THAT rant was directed at a conservative friend on FB who every day complains about how Obama is ruining the country but admitted recently that she’s not even registered to vote because “there’s no point”. THAT’s the stuff I get irritated with. If she hates him so much, she should have spent the last 8 years voting in smaller elections to make sure the people in her community were at least watching her back. Or what about the 2010 Elections! Most of my outraged Republican friends did everything they could to push for that Republican gain in the House. Why is she so ranty about the President but didn’t even vote in the midterm? AND SHE LIVES IN A SWING STATE! (If we want to talk votes that don’t count, my vote for Obama might as well been for Michael Jackson!)

    So, my point? You are not at all who I mean to reference. And I hope I made that clear b/c I really do respect you in so many ways! And I’m very glad you care, even if it’s about stuff different than I do!

    And honestly? I’m very happy to hear you are not someone who thinks that people like me not praying is what’s wrong with our school system. I’ve seen that so many times lately that it’s starting to just make me crazy. I consider myself very moral and I’m raising my kids that way and I hate the assumption that bad things happy in the schools/world because of a lack of God. So, thank you for being one of my Christian friends who doesn’t blame me for all that’s wrong with the world 🙂

    OH! And one more thing! (Because this comment is not long enough!) I have always wanted a secret Facebook to rant about political issues. HA! But oddly, mine would probably all be about gerrymandering of districts because that’s my new hot button issue lately and it is probably the most boring topic in the world and no one would every read it 🙂

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