If you’re a fan of the SEC, you’re a bad person and you should feel bad. Your team within the SEC, if you even claim one, also most definitely sucks.
To avoid any preemptive confusion, allow me to clarify the statement in my title. This column is intended to call out literal fans of the entity known as the Southeastern Conference. It is NOT for fans of Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Texas A&M, Arkansas, Georgia, Missouri, Kentucky, Florida, South Carolina, Tennessee, or Vanderbilt, respectively. If you’re a fan of one of these individual programs, cool your jets. I’ve got no beef with you.
I’m only here for fans of “the SEC” — the guy who has #SEC in his Twitter bio, yet doesn’t display an affiliation with a singular university, or the Kentucky grad who joins in the S-E-C chants in a bar as Alabama wins a national championship in football, or the Tennessee fan who talks shit to Georgia Tech fans after they get thumped by UGA, because “the SEC is better than the ACC and if you were in our conference, you’d get prison raped week in and week out.” These people self-identify with the conference as a whole, not with a specific team within it. These people are assholes.
“It’s conference pride, idiot. It’s an SEC thing. You wouldn’t understand.”
Shut up. It’s not conference pride. Conference pride is supporting the other teams in your conference, pulling for them against non-conference opponents, and, by definition, being proud to belong in that conference. Conference pride is not, however, hitching your team’s self-worth — and, in effect, yours — to the success of the other programs in your conference and talking shit based upon that success. It’s the “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” approach, and it’s intrinsically for losers.
There are many fans of teams within the Southeastern Conference with real, actual conference pride. The people described in this column give these nice people a bad name.
SEC fandom is a debilitating inferiority complex combined with a tinge of Stockholm syndrome. You’ll notice that the most boisterous SEC fans are the ones whose teams are performing poorly. They’re searching for justification for their 2-4 conference record, and because the SEC is the most dominant football conference — it is, admittedly — their excuses are perpetually on standby. It’s the ultimate trump card in their minds. “Yeah, sure, they beat us, but they would also beat you guys! And probably by a lot more!” Yeah, that may be, but they’d get the W. Not you.
You won’t find many Alabama fans touting the conference over their own program, and the reason is simple: they have plenty to be proud of without feeling the need to brag on their neighbors, too.
Your inferiority complexes are hitched to the back of a crimson and cream death machine and trailered off to the promised land. Your perceived success is not your own. It’s your neighbor’s. You just want to feel like you deserve a piece of it because you had the honor of losing to them, and while your neighborhood may be the nicest in the city, your house is small, your siding is coming off, your foundation is cracking, and rumors are swirling that the rundown house on the corner is the hub for an elaborate meth enterprise.
I have an analogy that I think is practical in exposing how ridiculous it is for people to fanatically support a conference in lieu of a single team. North America is a continent comprised of many countries. Each country within North America supports its own military (if it has one), funds its own infrastructure, creates and upholds its own laws, enjoys its own economic success, or suffers from its own economic shortcomings. These countries don’t carry the pride for their country over internationally. People in Mexico don’t cite the United States’ military prowess when claiming superiority over Lithuania. Canadians aren’t lobbing insults at Somalians because their American neighbors’ GDP trumps theirs. It would sound ridiculous, because they would be bragging on attributes that are not their own.
In a recent Twitter discussion about this topic, after I expressed my disdain for coattail-riding SEC fans, someone actually said this to me in an effort to counter my stance: “Completely understand, but can’t Luke Walton still celebrate when Kobe wins him a ring? It’s all we are saying.” Interesting question. Walton played alongside Kobe for many years with the Lakers, which is what this guy was referring to. I’m going to say that absolutely yes, Luke Walton should celebrate when Kobe wins him a ring, since THEY WERE ON THE SAME TEAM. The analogy he was looking for — though it’s one he couldn’t use, because his argument would have crumbled underneath him — is this: “Completely understand, but can’t Blake Griffin still celebrate when Kobe wins him a ring? It’s all we are saying.” That analogy actually translates, because Griffin and Bryant aren’t on the same team, but they are, however, in the same western conference division.
To that, I would have to emphatically say that no, Blake Griffin would definitely not celebrate a Lakers championship, because, well, Blake Griffin plays for the fucking Clippers..