Americans are some of the greatest fans in the world, whether it be cheering for their local high school football team on a fall Friday night or traveling half way around the globe to support our Olympians in their pursuit of a gold medal. We are proud of who we are and where we are from and it is part of the fabric of this great nation.
As a fan, I have been blessed to see some great moments in sports. In my lifetime, my hometown Atlanta has hosted the Olympics, two Super Bowls, countless MLB playoff games and World Series, the NCAA Basketball Championships, All Star Games, the list goes on. My favorite teams the Auburn Tigers, the Atlanta Braves, and the Atlanta Falcons have been successful too.
Of all of these sports moments, I have cheered the hardest and longest for the Auburn Tigers. To be an Auburn fan can sometimes be equated to riding a roller coaster, with a lot of high highs and a lot of low lows. I always believed the Auburn Family was a cut above the rest; we try to be very inviting to our football adversaries when they come to campus on game day and with our roller coaster of a past, our fans are humble and proud but without ego. There is always a beverage, a plate of food, and a pleasant conversation about that day’s game when folks come to visit the Auburn campus.
I want to preface these next few statement that everyone in our country has great traditions and many have great legacies but I believe I have found the best of the best in American fans (My Auburn Family, please don’t put me out to pasture, I still think of us as a close second). I had the pleasure of visiting College Station Texas to watch Auburn play Texas A&M at Kyle Field.
From the moment my family and I stepped onto the shuttle bus that took us to the game, I felt like we might be in a special place. An older gentleman on the bus immediately asked if this was our first time to visit and we said yes. He welcomed us and launched into their traditions and campus locations we needed to see during our visit. He gave a rundown of a typical football Saturday at Texas A&M including lunch at the Dixie Chicken in Northgate, a walk through the Memorial Student Center and told us to make it to the Corps of Cadets march in to the stadium. As we exited the bus the same gentleman asked us if he could walk us to where the Corps of Cadets meet before lining up to march and introduce us around as his new friends from Auburn.
We parted ways with him and walked towards Northgate for lunch and on our way we asked for directions to make sure we were going in the right direction. Again instead of giving us directions the middle aged man we asked walked us part of the way to our destination, asked us where we were from and welcomed us to College Station. We were blown away by this incredible hospitality. Not to mention later in the day this happened twice more as we made our way to the Memorial Student Center and then to find our gate entrance to the stadium.
When we got to our seats, my Brother and I took the entire scene in. Without the great hospitality seeing a game at Kyle Field would have been enough to make it a great weekend. We watched the Yell Leaders throw up hand signals to begin each cheer and with a thunderous noise and perfectly synced, every Aggie fan belted out each cheer. It was amazing.
After the pre-game flyover, the band began to play the National Anthem and my Brother and I looked behind us for the closest American flag to look at as we sang proudly. To our astonishment the Aggie faithful put up a sole Auburn University flag among the American and Texas State flags for our alumni section so that we had a piece of Auburn in their stadium. The word classy is an understatement.
Half time in most stadiums is generally the point in the game to get up to get refreshment, use the restroom, or gather in the portal to see your friends that are sitting in other sections. Not at Texas A&M. They stand and respectfully watch the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band play and march with extreme precision.
Towards the end of halftime, I read through my program and perused the section that talked about all of their traditions. I quickly realized that theses were more than traditions but instead a code of ethics on how to behave and treat your fellow man and more specifically those who come to visit College Station. From the Twelfth Man who stands ready for service, “Howdy” their official greeting to make everyone feel like family, and Aggie terms used for bad behavior like “Bad Bull” or “Two Percenters”. They literally police themselves and don’t allow their own supporters to act badly towards visitors. Incredible.
After Auburn won and we were walking out of the stadium and back to our bus stop, we assumed we would get a little razzing. But every few feet on our walk, random passerbies would say “good game”, “safe drive home”, and “thanks for coming to College Station”. Perfect grace after a close fought game and a tough loss.
Historically after a game my Brother, Father, and I dissect each play and go over the high points and the low points of our offense and defense. Not that evening. All we talked about was the class of the Aggie faithful and how well we were treated as guests.
Thank you Texas A&M for making our trip to College Station a memorable one and thank you for your sportsmanship, hospitality and grace. We hope we can give you an inkling of this when you return to Auburn next year. If you haven’t heard it yet, We are Proud to have you in the SEC!