A Tiger’s Roar
I’ve been a Clemson fan for as long as I can remember. My mother is a Clemson graduate. I am a Clemson graduate. The university had a hand in the shaping of our family, our careers, and how we have been equipped to give back to our community.
My grandfather would have been a graduate of Clemson as well. He completed one year there, but the death of an older brother and the failing health of his father meant he had to return to the family farm to keep it going. Those were the days before the term “hobby farming” had been invented. This was no hobby. This was the livelihood and survival of the family. His dream was never fulfilled, but I know he was proud of both my mom and me when we earned our Clemson diplomas.
I can’t help but roll my eyes when our rival fans make fun of Clemson students as being backwoods, ignorant, toothless rednecks because of our school’s agricultural roots. They probably make up their tacky jokes while eating hamburgers (that may well have been raised by farmers who learned to improve the quality of beef at Clemson) while tailgating by their nice vehicles (that may well have been made safer and more fuel efficient by automotive researchers from Clemson) near artfully constructed buildings (that may well have been designed by architects trained at Clemson).
I’ve always wondered why they choose to attack the people of Clemson even more than the football players or program. Surely they can find something to ridicule about a young team that rises to the top. Or about a coach who invests just as much into the development of his athletes as scholars and individuals as he does into developing them into winning players. I know – they could make fun of the fact that Dabo dances funny. Wait, even Clemson fans laugh about that, so that’s out. And who cares if our coach dances funny? We’re proud because we have a coach who loves the game and loves his players so much that he isn’t above demonstrating his unadulterated joy – even if he looks a little silly while doing it. But no, the best attack they can find on the team is the term “Clemsoning.” And look – we “Clemsoned” ourselves to an undefeated regular season, a #1 ranking that we’ve held long enough to prove it isn’t a fluke, and another year of state bragging rights. The term kinda loses its punch when you look at it like that.
So yes, I am proud to be a Clemson Tiger. I am proud to be a graduate of a university with roots in agriculture. I am proud of the graduates who join me in trying to sing that beautifully un-singable alma mater – all the teachers, architects, engineers, nurses, business leaders, politicians, community leaders, and yes, all the farmers. I am proud of those kids – and remember, they really are still kids – who somehow survive the unbelievable pressure that the world of college football places on their shoulders in order to play – and thoroughly enjoy playing – this crazy game. I’m proud of the coaching staff who holds their players to high standards both on and off the field. I’m proud of a head coach who keeps the joy of the game and the development of young men as his top priorities. I will always be a proud Clemson fan, whether the team’s record is 12-0 or 0-12, because it’s not really about the game at all. It’s about a place, a tradition, a set of values, and an education that reaches far beyond the classroom walls and the football field. Go Tigers!