Dig Baton Rouge

East of The River

By Katie East

School rivalries are a funny thing. They’re passed down from one generation and the ones after inherit this mild hatred for an opposing institution. Sports teams are the best way to instill pride in a school but often our competitive natures get the best of us. Most of the time there’s no rhyme or reason to the conflict, or none that most people would remember offhand; it’s just ingrained in us.

If you were raised in Baton Rouge, you’re taught from a young age to hate Bama. Even my nephew learned to say “Boo Alabama” at the age of two. Of course, anytime we play an SEC team the competition heats up but there’s just something different about Alabama. Whenever we hear the words “Roll tide” our blood boils.

Of course Satan, I mean Saban, didn’t make things easier by going over to the dark side. It’s one thing to leave LSU for a job at the NFL but it’s another to coach our biggest rival. Obviously, this still doesn’t sit well with LSU fans.

But even before Saban took over at Alabama, the tigers had a distaste for the school. Why? Are their values so different than ours? Are their fans that offensive that we can’t find some common ground? I doubt it.
While I was at LSU I was friends with the Vice President of the student body. I never had more fun than when I went tailgating with him. He always knew where the fun parties were but he never got so drunk that he caused any issues. He was definitely an ambassador for the college and he behaved like it.

Anytime a fan for the opposite team would walk by our tailgate he would always yell: “Tiger bait, tiger bait! Just kidding guys, have a good time. Enjoy the game.”

What a class act. He knew what rivalries were really all about. Unfortunately, many other people I know didn’t follow the great example he set. All too often I’ve seen drunk dudes verbally degrade someone just because they’re wearing a red t-shirt.

Honestly, who cares? We’re all college graduates from a Southern university that loves football. How different can we really be?

Last month, social media lit up when Harry T’s restaurant in Destin refused to serve LSU fans claiming they had a bad reputation for starting fights there. I saw friends I knew on Facebook who were shocked. “Why would anyone hate LSU?” some said.
I wasn’t surprised. Every school has bad fans. I’ve witnessed some really terrible ones at LSU. We’re proud and we love to drink; that can be a dangerous combination for some people.

I find it amusing that someone would be be genuinely confused about other SEC schools hating us. We hate other schools, just because too; it’s par for the course down here. Half of the South thinks LSU fans smell like corn dogs. Are we really trying to make sense of the pettiness and generalizations our rivals make about us?

Comedian Todd Barry has a great joke about college rivals. He once got booed at a show for saying he went to the University of Florida. The heckler yelled out “Florida State!” explaining why he booed. Todd Barry jokes:
“I love that mentality, “Boo! You went to a different school than I did. I want everyone going to the same school. One school. 140 million students. Or I go ‘boo.’ I am the least tolerant human being on Earth.’”
And that is about how ridiculous the concept of rivalry is. Sure, it’s fun to get riled up in the stadium or to razz your friend who goes to a different school. But for those people who take it to the extreme, settle down. Don’t be mean to someone just because their hat has a different mascot on it than yours. You probably have much more in common with them than you think.

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