Sports in Paradise By Dale Jones
I love SEC football just as much as the next guy. Maybe more.
During the off-season, I am one of those that can be flipping channels, and if I run across one of those “classic” games from 1987, I will stop and watch. I love college football.
All that being said, I think it is time that we put this whole “tree killing” thing into perspective.
Rivalries are good. No, they are great. They are the games that make people go out and by million-dollar travel trailers, cause them to name their children after former coaches or school colors, or inspire them to paint their houses red and white or orange and blue.
Rivalries also spur hate amongst the fans.
Ask a White Sox fan how he feels about the Cubs. How much love is there between Ole Miss and Mississippi State? Yankees and Red Sox? I could go on and on.
Now, I use the word “hate” in the above paragraph loosely. I mean, Alabama fans don’t REALLY “hate” Auburn fans, right? Auburn fans aren’t really out to get Bama fans, are they?
There are married couples, siblings and business partners all across this great state that disagree on which team is the best, but they don’t go out of their way to harm each other or destroy property.
Up until now, it has all just been “in fun” to rag the fans of the other school.
But 62-year-old Harvey Almorn Updyke has taken things to a whole new level.
Now, I am not a huge fan of the Paul Finebaum show, and I don’t mean that because of Paul Finebaum. I like Paul. He is a great journalist, is knowledgeable about sports and does a good job. It is the 10 guys and 2 gals who, like clockwork, call this syndicated sports talk show every afternoon. Do these people have no life?
I know that there are people who listen on a regular basis, probably thousands of listeners.
So when “Al from Dadeville” called to tell the entire state of Alabama that he had poisoned the Toomer’s oaks, you have to ask yourself, what was he thinking?
What was he thinking when he poisoned the trees, and what was he thinking when he decided to call and tell the whole world what he had done?
I don’t care who you are or what team you pull for, but when it gets to the point that you are going to do physical harm to another person’s property, you have gone too far.
If you wear orange and blue and you are even considering driving out to Elmwood to put something on Bear Bryant’s headstone, that makes you a head case.
Are there classless fans on both sides? YES!
Are there Bama fans laughing at what this idiot did to the tress? YES!
Are there Auburn fans that want some sort of retaliation? YES!
People, please. Can we stop right now?
The game, in and of itself is one thing. Destroying property and causing harm is another.
Let’s all put away our containers of Spike 80 DF, our cans of spray paint, our guns and our swords.
We are talking about football.
To the Alabama faithful, let me say that if you are having fun with what “Al” did and think it is okay, you have problems.
To the Auburn faithful, the trees in question, while they hold sentimental value, are still just trees. Nobody died, and these are the same trees that YOU cover in toilet paper every time you win a game.
Everybody just chill!
Hit ‘em straight!
—Dale Jones is a reporter / sports columnist for Gulf Coast Newspapers and a Member of the Alabama Sports Writers Association. You can reach Dale at firstname.lastname@example.org