Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Bear in Aggieland

To the editor of The Battalion (the Texas A&M school newspaper):

I am an alumus of Baylor, the father of a current Baylor student, a member of the Baylor Alumni Council, and an adjunct professor at the Baylor Law School.

I bought a ticket for Saturday’s “Battle of the Brazos” football game. Before leaving home, I put this note on my Facebook page: “On the road to College Station for the last foreseeable Baylor-A&M game. While I thoroughly enjoy rooting against the Aggies, we have to have a healthy respect for their good team, their rabid fans, and the awesome Kyle Field experience. Sic 'em.” I had been to games at Kyle Field before, so I knew what an incredible atmosphere the Aggies create for the games. Despite the unease between the two campus communities arising both out of the conference alignment situation and our natural rivalry, I was really looking forward to sharing in what may well be the last Baylor football game in College Station.

Having bought my ticket on eBay, I assumed I was getting it from some rich Aggie season ticket holder who could not make it to the game. Imagine my surprise, then, when I found myself in the middle of the A&M student section. Yes, I was the guy in green and gold about ten rows directly behind the Aggie Band. I am not ashamed to say that I was a little uncomfortable. For a Baylor fan, this could have been a scary place from which to watch the game.

It is the nature of competitive football for fans to support their own team and deride the other. Collectively, the Aggie fans were appropriately disdainful of the Bears, and there were one or two cheers (and one particular gesture – you know which one I mean) led by the Yell Leaders that crossed the line of offensiveness.

But I write to tell you how impressed I was with the individual A&M students who surrounded me. Not a single person was rude or even anything less than a perfect lady or gentleman. The people directly around me introduced themselves and talked with me. The young man in front of me, when I jokingly remarked that I hoped these new friends of mine would protect me if my Baylor shirt and cap attracted some mischief, said, “We Aggies are generally self-correcting. If anything happens, you let me know, and I will take care of it.” Chris, the Aggie sitting next to me, kept up a running conversation with me about the game throughout out the afternoon. As I turned to leave, the same young man in front of me (whose name I did not get) made a point to catch up with me and shake my hand, thank me for coming, and wish me safe travels going home.

We live in an increasingly uncivil world. I bleed green and gold, and I guess I was surprised that the middle of the A&M student section, during a rivalry football game surrounded by the disagreements and hurt feelings of the past weeks, would be a place where I would find such friendliness, sportsmanship, and genuine acceptance. I congratulate your students and your university. You showed me hospitality and some real hope for how we can all get along in the coming days.

While I did not Whoop, and I sat down to try to stay out of the way when everyone else locked arms and started swaying, I can say that I truly enjoyed my three and half hours in Aggieland. I even found myself enjoying the War Hymn – after all, any song that makes fun of Bevo and that school in Austin cannot be all bad!

Gig ‘em, and sic ‘em.

Lyn Robbins

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