For true fans, it’s the game that matters
It’s that time of year again – you can feel it. This Friday, the Nebraska Cornhuskers will roll into Boulder to face your Colorado Buffaloes in Folsom Field in the regular season finale for both teams.
The winner will be bowl eligible. The loser will get an early start on recruiting. It will be a cold day for what has emerged as one of the hottest rivalries in college football.
But that rivalry will be on the field – between the teams – and played out with intense competition among opposing players between the end zones and between the respective coaching staffs on the sidelines.
Off the field – in the stands, on the airwaves, in and around Boulder, and from I-76 in Colorado to I-80 in Nebraska – we must respect our opponent and keep things collegial and in true competitive sporting fashion.
The Husker fans are our guests here in Boulder. They will drive a long way to see their team -a proud fellow member of the prestigious Big 12 Conference – play in our stadium.
I urge all Buff fans to play a positive role in providing our guests with a great experience in Boulder, just as I expect our fans to be treated with respect and hospitality when we travel to Lincoln next year.
With this in mind, I want first to thank our loyal fans for their tremendous support this year (fan support and energy was key in a big home win over Oklahoma), and next, I want to remind everybody who plans to come to Folsom Friday morning that in many ways, this game means more than all the others put together.
With a bowl game on the line against our cross-border conference rivals, on national TV during a national holiday celebration, the stakes are big for properly representing our State, University and athletic program.
In other words: “build positive equity in the rivalry.” Be a factor in creating excitement and pageantry into the game on the field by bringing that passion into the stadium not with poor sportsmanship in the stands or outside the stadium.
Cheer loudly and collectively for the Buffs. Single out the players and team as they shine and especially when there are miscues or a shift in momentum. Acknowledge the Husker fans’ right to cheer their team on.
But leave the unconstructive stuff – profanity, insults, jokes and other provocations – to yourself.
It’s a simple thing, really: be classy this is our house, we desire to be viewed as a nationally cherished college football community and the Nebraska players and fans are our guests. You wouldn’t want your neighbors mistreating your houseguests – it would reflect badly on you, your whole block and your neighborhood.
The same principle applies here, tenfold. I get dismayed when I hear of Web traffic following marquee home games in Boulder pointing out poor sportsmanship on the part of our fans.
In fact, too often, that behavior becomes the story in the press rather than what happened on the field, which is where the media’s focus should be.
Remember, it isn’t necessary to hate the Huskers or Husker fans in order to love the Buffaloes.
I plan to properly welcome Tom Osborne when he arrives in Boulder, and you certainly will not see Buffs head coach Dan Hawkins disrespecting Nebraska head coach Bill Callahan at any point before, after or during Friday’s game.
I have high expectations of our coaches, players and administrators to reach out to our counterparts at Nebraska as professionals, colleagues and yes, rivals, then Colorado fans across the state can do the same.
I ask each of you to do just that: welcome our neighbors to the east to Boulder, the home of “Your Team” and show them Colorado hospitality and our vision to be the class of the league.
Root for the Buffs loudly and passionately, whether you’re in Folsom Field, at home or in a bar or restaurant somewhere in Colorado. But in doing all that, don’t offer insults and put-downs to Nebraska fans: that doesn’t help the Buffs in any way, shape or form.
So let’s keep the rivalry on the field, and root for the Buffs to the beat the Huskers on Friday in the way we Colorado fans always have: by yelling “Go Buffs!” at every opportunity.
Mike Bohn is the Director of Intercollegiate Athletics at the University of Colorado at Boulder.