Going to a school in the SEC means a lot of things: access to tons of resources, some of the best research opportunities in the country, large campuses, and of course, extremely hype football games.
There is nothing like walking into Davis Wade Stadium surrounded by a mass of people ringing cowbells and yelling hail state. The atmosphere is incomparable to anything else and you feel like you're in the midst of 22,000 of your best friends.
In the SEC, football fans live for their teams. They'll spend absurd amounts of money on tickets, team sweatshirts, and anything with their team's logo on it as well as get into heated debates about the new quarterback or how well they believe their season will go this year. Entire weekends are even planned around gameday and tailgating.
The community that forms around all of these things is inherently good. It's great to see so many people come together in support of their university, however there is a tendency in our schools to forget that football is still a friendly game, and the opponents are not enemies or people to wish harm upon.
A couple of weeks ago, as a member of the Mississippi State Famous Maroon Band, I attended the Arkansas game in Fayetteville. We drove in on a huge bus that said "Mississippi State" on the side and as we pulled onto campus we were greeted with several obscene hand gestures and angry passersby yelling and booing us. They probably thought we were the football team, but even still, harassing college students playing a sport for their school is ridiculous.
Sitting in the stands during football games I hear a lot of what the crowd says as well, and more times than I've cared for I hear people talk about how they hope a member of the other team breaks their leg or gets taken out so they will stop scoring points. Similarly, when a player on the other team gets hurt and the field takes a knee, I've heard several people cheer and give praise.
While it is completely unacceptable for full-grown adults to cheer for a college student getting hurt in the first place, if it is a serious injury the implications can be far worse than just being taken out of a game. If players can't participate anymore, they can lose their scholarship, leaving them with a huge financial burden for themselves and their family. Furthermore, football is an extremely high contact sport, and the injuries can leave life-long damage inhibiting athletes in all their future endeavors. That is nothing to celebrate.
It's time we enjoy football for what it really is: a sport. It's good, it's fun, it's exciting, but it is not so important that we disrespect or harm people who are rooting for their own team.