The Oft-Maligned Tar Heel Fan

By boblee Posted September 2, 2012 at 9:20 pm

There are few, if any, factions more maligned than “Tar Heel sports fans”.  A maligning I have always considered greatly exaggerated and quite unfair.  “Fairness” is never a consideration in the take no prisoners world of rival fan baiting.
 
I, being “fair”, know aplenty of Duke fans who are NOT from New Jersey — I have yet to meet an NC State fan who is romantically involved with a domesticated farm animal; Wake Forest fans do dance; and ECU fans are literate.  Of all the assorted broad-brush myths about area fan bases, the only one I have yet to see debunked is “all ECU coeds are at least 8s”.  I’m pretty sure THAT ONE is true.
 
There are two categories that produce college sports fans – (1) Liberal Arts colleges and (2) Land Grant (“aggie”) colleges.   Frat Boys vs Farm Boys.   Trite insults from one to the other are well-documented and available in paperback versions in student bookstores and in off-campus novelty shops.
 
Pick up one in College Station, TX, insulting the “orangeblood teasippers” at UT Austin, and you can insert “baby blue wine & cheesers” without skipping a beat.  Same goes in Charlottesville, VA, regarding HokieNation in Blacksburg.  References to lack of teeth, inbreeding and the aforementioned animal husbandry inferences abound.
 
The last recorded ORIGINAL insult in the Frat Boy vs Farm Boy genre was spewed during Dwight Eisenhower’s first administration.
 
The modern era of Tar Heel fan maligning began when Florida State’s Sam Cassell referred to the “cheese & wine” fans in The Dean Dome back in the early 90s.  All ABCers on the planet added it to their repertoire of snarky insults.
 
Tar Heels supposedly:  arrive late ….. leave early ….. don’t stand up all game and don’t behave like 8-year ADD kids at a Chuckie E Cheese party.  So?
 
Being “a celebrity fan”, I don’t have to buy tickets to attend sports events.  If I did I would attend very few if any.   I have access to “seats w/ benefits”. 
 
I don’t pay good money ($50+) to sit in crowded bleachers surrounded by quite imperfect strangers in various stages of inebriated idiocy….. under a blazing sun capable of frying an egg on that very bleacher.   That lost its appeal for me about the time I exited puberty.   Thankfully for sports marketers, I am not the norm.
 
If I did so indulge myself….. respecting the integrity of my designated space and not negatively affecting my fellow bleacherites would be my choice of conduct.  Continually blocking the view of others while being overtly profane and obscene would not be in my arsenal of behavior.   That’s just me.
 
There may be 3-4 college stadiums in America where rank & file spectators have reached universal agreement on acceptably rowdy behavior – Texas A&M being one.  I can’t think of the other 2-3. 
 
It is a common myth that ALL SEC stadiums are “wild & crazy”.  No they are not.  I have attended games in most of their notorious stadia and seen aplenty of the “wine & cheese” description.  Most recently last Fall in Baton Rogue.
 
I annually attend games (complimentary) at Carter-Finley, The Wally and BB&T Field in W-Salem.  At UVa’s Scott Stadium every other year.  Other than the expected dominant school color differences, I see the same categories at every venue.
 
Tickets to college FB & BkB games are not cheap — $50+.  That simple fact precludes most hard-core nitwits from attending.  Nitwitting is not a lucrative occupation.  They lurk on the outside lobbing their profane projectiles at the more intellectually advanced.
 
Student sections are what student sections are supposed to be …… uninhibited goofball kids with bare chests, painted faces and “Hey look at me Mr Cameraman” histrionics.  Bless their hearts!
 
The parents and grandparents of those goofball kids are, by choice, several sections removed….. dressed appropriate to weather conditions and behaving like middle-aged adults with worthwhile reputations to preserve.   Cheering when merited, standing when appropriate, and coming/going based on individual circumstances.
 
Most stadiums have traditions that generate Pavlovian responses.  The Eyes of Texas….. Brown-eyed Girl….. My Olde Kentucky Home….. Hail To The Victors….. Missouri Waltz…. et al.   Same responses from the same demographics in Chapel Hill, Madison, Austin, or Raleigh.  What seems silly to cynical visitors is enduringly sentimental to the home crowd.
 
Negative stereotypes from one’s “most-hated rival” are harder to dispel than a case of herpes.  They get passed down thru generations (just like herpes) and generate the same snorts and chortles over decades.  No penicillin can knock’em out.
 
I’ve attended darn near every UNC home FB game over the past 20 years.  The average attendance has been within 92% of capacity despite well-documented ebbs and flows of on-field success.  94% of college sports programs would chew off their arm for that success.  Zigga that Zoomba.
 
Betcha didn’t know that vaunted Florida State averaged 60,000/ home game last year.  Doak-Campbell Stadium seats 83,000.  Oops.
 
BobLee’s Golden Rule re: Public Event Behavior is:  My freedom to behave as I wish extends so far as it does not restrict that same privilege to others.  Apply that to arriving, leaving, standing up and how/when I cheer and there’s no problem.

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