It’s a tough year to be a Nebraska Husker if you’re into football. I mean, for real. This past weekend, we had a huge boost to the ego – much needed for Husker Nation. The record is now 4-6 on the season since we just defeated a top ten team, but before this gleam of hope, the negative shouts were coming out loud and clear. From “Bye bye Riley” all over Facebook to pictures of Husker football tickets being handed out in the Halloween candy bowl. I get it, it’s all fun and games…until you realize you’re actually talking about human beings. So I’m not afraid to say it. If you can only support when we win…
Shame on you. You’re not a true Husker fan.
Will this make me unpopular? Likely with the crowd of people who want to hand out all these ridiculous facts about the performance this year and how it is completely attributed to coaching. By the way – I’m a teacher. You can’t teach players to play perfectly all the time any more than you can teach students to give 100% effort in the classroom every time they enter. You can’t blame poor performance on a coach any more than you can blame poor student performance on teachers.
It’s the same thing. It’s called learning – and it’s a process. It takes time.
So I want to know how many of you have spent hours coaching the Husker football team? How many of you know every single player and have learned to hold your head high and exhibit class on the sidelines when you know practically an entire state of fairweather fans are mocking and judging you? How many of you are calling the calls, adjusting plays due to countless injuries, and trying to help teenagers play college ball? Yes, I said teenagers. Oh – you likely forgot most of these (80 of 135 on the roster – nearly 60% if you didn’t know) are freshmen and sophomores.
I guess I thought college ball was still a chance for many to sharpen their skills. I thought that the true purpose for college is to get an education. But instead, we have hundreds screaming and shouting that the coach and the players aren’t good enough. What does that do to confidence? What does that say to others who may be considering contributing their skills to this great program?
It says, “We don’t care about learning and supporting people. We care about winning.”
Don’t forget the importance of strong recruiting. I’m not saying that losses aren’t disappointing. I’m not saying it’s not okay to be upset. I’m saying it’s time to step up and realize that there is a lot to be said for sucking up your pride and being willing to support a TEAM even when they aren’t performing to your expectations or to the expectations of the past. I’m saying it takes a bigger person to post “Bummer! Good effort boys! Lots to work on, but I did see progress in some areas.” than “Screw this! Six losses! I’m not seeing anything good at all! I need some Iowa gear.”
First of all, if you’re not seeing ANYTHING good, then you better never be a coach or a teacher. Because I can guarantee you right now Coach Riley is desperately trying to build up his team’s confidence by finding some good and working on the bad. It’s what we do as educators. And a coach is an educator.
Do I know if Mike Riley is the best coach for Nebraska? No. But here’s the thing, neither do you. You may know some facts you found on the Internet or even knew from being a “fan.” But if you’re not a player, a coach, or a decision-maker where coaching calls are concerned, then you have one job.
You’re a fan. So learn to embrace your role as a fan.
The actual definition of a “fan” includes words like “enthusiastic devotee,” “ardent admirer,” and “enthusiast.” You will not find “critic” anywhere. And I beg you, learn to accept the good seasons with the bad. Learn that being a fan also means supporting a coach as much as the players. Learn that winning takes time and dedication; it takes talent, and talent must also be nurtured and given time. It takes confidence. Do you know what tears down confidence? Negativity. Guilt. Blame. Confidence is needed by the players, but is is also needed by the coaches. And tearing down a coach does nothing positive for your team.
While I don’t know all of your fancy sports facts that you so forcefully spew all over social media, I also don’t care. When you do this with the intent to tear down the team that I love, you just make yourself look ridiculous. Yes, I’m a 31-year-old female college professor, so I don’t fit the mold of a sports fanatic I’m sure. But I love football. And my love of football only continues to grow now that I am mom to two young boys who also share my love of the game.
So here’s my warning. I’m a momma bear, and those Huskers are my “other boys” – coach and all. I’m a fan. So stop tearing down my team. If you want to be a fan, be a fan. I’ll cheer loud with you! But it’s not okay to only support when the season is going the way you want it to. If you can do better, take the job. But based upon your attitude, I doubt you’ll be hired.
Learn more about the writer, Bailey Koch, at www.jeremyandbailey.com. Follow the blog at www.jeremyandbaileyblog.com and pick up their book, “Never Alone: A Husband and Wife’s Journey with Depression and Faith” on Amazon.