Opinion: Confirmation that ‘red’ and ‘blue’ really can get along

A fairly even mixture of fans gathers in Notre Dame Stadium before the Sept. 9 game between the Irish and Georgia. (Kyle Wingfield photo)

SOUTH BEND, Indiana — Check out most any list of the most hated teams in all of sports, and somewhere near the top you’re bound to find Notre Dame football. Like the New York Yankees, the Dallas Cowboys and the Los Angeles Lakers, the Fighting Irish are one of those squads that, with its national following and history of success, is reviled by most everyone else.

So when I and about 30,000 other Georgia Bulldogs fans arrived for last weekend’s game, we came loaded for leprechaun. And we promptly found ourselves among … well … just about the nicest people anywhere.

One of the green-jacketed greeters on Notre Dame’s campus, Sept. 8. (Kyle Wingfield photo)

There were little old men in green blazers stopping us to ask if we had questions or needed anything. A campus cop offered tips for touring the basilica. The stadium and basketball arena were open Friday afternoon for fans to have a look-see. A waitress at a sports bar remarked — after we’d left the tip — about how “snazzy” the visitors from Georgia looked.

And the fans: They were out early Saturday morning, setting up tailgate spreads for all. There were flags, cornhole boards and the biggest bottle of Fireball whisky I’ve ever seen. Everywhere you looked, there was socializing between partisans wearing Bulldog red or Irish blue and green. Inside the stadium we spoke affably, in between screaming for our players to drive theirs into the turf.

I’m sure others among the assembled thousands could tell of less friendly engagement, but I neither saw nor heard of any. (Every fan base has its knuckleheads, but at $500-plus per ticket, maybe ours and theirs stayed home.)

Some Georgia people attributed it to the fact we’re not longtime rivals with Notre Dame — it was only the second time the teams have played — or that it wasn’t an SEC game. Perhaps. Certainly, encounters between Southeastern Conference cousins have produced uglier scenes over the years, though I’ve been to games in Auburn and Tuscaloosa and Knoxville and Jacksonville, and never witnessed much that was out of step with what I saw in South Bend.

No, I don’t think the lack of contempt at Notre Dame owed to a lack of familiarity. I chalk it up to the fact we were face-to-face, not swapping nastygrams in the septic tanks that online message boards can be.

If you think this is where I pivot to politics, you’re right.

My father-in-law is fond of saying life is a contact sport. You need to get out there, shake a hand, look another in the eye. Turns out, it’s usually much harder to hate the other guy after that.

My work puts me in both the comment threads and the halls of government, and what I’ve noticed is how much more amicably Republicans and Democrats get along in person than online. I find the real hatred exists chiefly among those who engage only from their keyboards — or are paid to keep the fires of outrage stoked.

This is not a mushy call to bipartisanship or “working together.” Americans hold real differences of opinion on the issues, and fighting for our views to win elections and policy debates is just as legitimate as last weekend’s struggle on the field. The red horde didn’t convert any Irish fans to our dawgma, any more than we became Notre Dame fans. But I do think we’re killing ourselves by moving toward actual hatred of one another, by writing off anyone with a red “MAGA” hat as irredeemably racist or safe-space-seeking students as hopeless snowflakes.

And above all, Georgia fans, when the Notre Dame nation returns the trip and comes to Athens in 2019, let’s show them the hospitality they showered on us. Like most Democrats, they’re not as bad as you’ve heard.

Reader Comments 0

52 comments
vihowajoro
vihowajoro

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peyaxeb
peyaxeb

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breckenridge
breckenridge

Trump tweeted a short video today.  It shows he, Trump, smacking a golf ball into Hillary Clinton's back as she is boarding a plane.


What a childish punk Donald Trump is. What a gutless coward, a low-class, piss-poor excuse for a human being who continues to demean the office to which he was elected.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

It's humorous to see the left on here hoping against hope some almost gleefully that the Trump base is slipping away. The problem they overlook is where is the Trump base going to go. Will they flock to Bernie, Elizabeth Warren, Hillary Clinton, very unlikely. The Democrats have no message, no platform that resonates with the Trump base. The Dem's have no America first message, no pro-economic growth message, no jobs message, no controlled immigration message, no strong military message. Nothing that appeals to Trump voters.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@SGTGrit

While the democrat message is weak and scattered, 3 things seem to be emerging.

1. Medicare for all

2. Higher minimum wage

3. Tax reform that distributes tax burden differently.

Those 3 seem to be appealing to Trump voters.

breckenridge
breckenridge

@SGTGrit 

What a bunch of bull crap.  I can find you 5 or 6 or 7 or more polls that show the decline in numbers in the Trump base.  But I won't do that because you'll just scream FAKE NEWS!  Why? Because you're part of the Denial Clown Posse.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@breckenridge @SGTGrit 

The polls reveal nothing but you just keep clinging to them without a thought as to where Trump voters can go. Your Democrats have no message.

breckenridge
breckenridge

@SGTGrit @breckenridge 

Yeah, you can call me a democrat, it doesn't bother me.  Of course I'm not a democrat, I'm a former republican that quit the party because it was taken over by garbage such as Jerry Falwell. But hey don't let reality get in your way.

You can also keep clinging to your Social Conservative Clown Posse nonsense, the belief that you have a free ticket to heaven because some personal savior mumbo jumbo..  That is stupid and foolish, entirely nonsensical, but it appeals to small minds with limited intelligence, life losers who have no hope other than the next rodeo.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@breckenridge @SGTGrit 

Breckenridge, we all know that you're a far-lefty. You're a zealot for every far-left cause. You aren't fooling anybody only yourself.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

"But I do think we’re killing ourselves by moving toward actual hatred of one another, by writing off anyone with a red “MAGA” hat as irredeemably racist or safe-space-seeking students as hopeless snowflakes." 

Add to that I suppose -  But I do think we’re killing ourselves by moving toward actual hatred of one another, by writing off anyone too poor to buy a $500 college football game ticket as 100% of the pool for deplorables (knuckleheads).

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@AvgGeorgian "by writing off anyone too poor to buy a $500 college football game ticket as 100% of the pool for deplorables (knuckleheads)."

What an apparently deliberate misreading of what I wrote. Just because I hoped the knuckleheads wouldn't shell out $500 for a ticket (plus travel) does not in any way mean that anyone who can't spend that kind of money is a knucklehead. Nor does it mean I think the knuckleheads don't have that kind of money, just that I hoped the money would be a deterrent to their showing up just to be obnoxious.

breckenridge
breckenridge

Sept 16 - Nine months into the administration of President Donald Trump, fans of the eccentric Detroit rap duo Insane Clown Posse assembled a larger rally on the national mall this Saturday than the president’s diehard supporters stationed a few hundred yards away.

Out-clowned by the Clown Posse?  The base is shrinking.


JK1951
JK1951

I was not aware that Indiana was a democrat stronghold. They have a republican governor, one of many? The people in Indiana are pretty much like here they just have Yankees in their civil war memorials and do cold better.


Richard Martin4919
Richard Martin4919

@JK1951 Indiana is a red state. We have a Republican super majority in the house and senate. We won our case for voter ID law in the US Supreme court in 2010.

The state, because of Republican control for years we have a positive cash flow unlike our neighboring state Illinois. It is just the northeast corner near Chicago and Indianapolis where the libs hang out. 

breckenridge
breckenridge

The foolish and the deluded showed up in Washington and marched today. 

Oh...that was the mother of all Trump supporters rally.  Never mind then.

Caius
Caius

Busy all day yesterday and missed this column.  Well said Kyle.

Not sure what causes the name calling, but it appears some folks simply cannot disagree with another without calling them a name. Name calling has nothing to do with the topic under discussion but seems to make some fell better about themselves.

I started politics in the late 1950's. Whites in the south solid Democrats and blacks in the south solid Republicans. People change.

So it is the fault of the media!  Really?  Does the reader and/or listener and/or looker bear no responsibility? Are people not expected to use the brain they possess?

My observation is that people want to feel good.  So they watch/read what makes them feel good. What's that word for self-gradification?



Starik
Starik

@Caius  The parties changed, not the people. What used to be Dixiecrats are now Southern Republicans. 

RoadScholar
RoadScholar

UGA is a hellhole for visiting teams. Had encounter and friends who had the same experience: UGA "fans" wanting to pick a fight. Funny thing was when we didn't "bite" they fought among themselves. I will never go back! Classless! Granted not all fans are that way, but experienced that at Auburn also. When they come to Tech for the game most are very well behaved and courteous!

Starik
Starik

@RoadScholar  At South Carolina they give the Hitler salute for some reason. A rough bunch there. Clemson fans are nice. 

breckenridge
breckenridge

The Trump administration demanded in unusually strong terms Friday that Kurdish leaders in Iraq cancel a referendum on independence set for later this month, saying it was “distracting” from the military effort against Islamic State terrorists.

It's about time the Kurds declared independence.  It was bound to happen since the minute Saddam was deposed.  And no, it should not be opposed by America. 

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

DANG! My own post startled me.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@JeffreyEav

Did you try going to ajc.com, logging in there, then going to Bookman's?

JeffreyEav
JeffreyEav

I can log in here but not other areas of AJC. Cmon man. You know what a subscription costs each month? This happens too flipping often.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@JeffreyEav

I get in free because I subscribe to the Sunday hardcopy.

Are they charging to get to the blogs if you don't have a hardcopy subscription?

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

It isn't so much a Democrat vs. Republican anymore. It used to be if you or your family were union people you probably voted Democrat. If you or your family were white collar professional people you probably voted Republican. As far as traditional American culture was concerned there was very little separating Americans regardless of party affiliation. The 60's began changing all of that. Today it's ideology not so much political party. The far-left has pretty much taken over the Democrat party and if you lean left you're probably going to vote Democrat. If you're an American traditionalist you're probably going to vote Republican. The deep divide is ideological and the common bound of traditional American culture no longer holds us together. I suspect somewhere in the future a significant event could once again unite us but for now the divide will continue to grow deeper.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@SGTGrit

Well put.

Let's hope that significant event is the continued decline of the Democratic Party.

That may sound far fetched to some, but if they keep riding the socialism train it could become reality.

Starik
Starik

@JohnnyReb @SGTGrit  "Traditional" isn't appealing to me. I remember a really stupid war with a draft system that was a disgrace. Racial segregation. Mandatory "prayer" in schools. Some traditions, like "traditional" history classes in the public schools should be gone. 

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@Starik @JohnnyReb @SGTGrit 

The only thing truly stupid about Vietnam was our decision to lose it after we decided to get into it. I don't believe being caught up in a war is anything to whine about there have been other wars in our recent history where people have suffered, Korea, WWII and what we're facing today. Wars happen just like other events natural disasters and personal crises in peoples lives. America has risen above our challenges as a nation and as the worlds youngest and most successful democracy. I'm not ashamed of our history. Again it's the divide and we're on opposite sides of it. I'm elderly but by no means a "bitter White man."

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

Social media is certainly the biggest contributor to the political divisions in this country. The echo chamber is real and its happening.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@McGarnagle

A rare occasion where we agree.

I look at social media similar to protesting.

People who work have little to no time to protest just as they have little to no time to stay on social media.

I can only speak for myself, but I'm older and don't have a twitter or facebook account.  I suspect many older folks don't either.

Starik
Starik

Is Indiana Southern? Yes. Remember, they had a Governor who was a KKK leader in the 1920s. 

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

It should not go unnoticed the Mason-Dixon Line is on the South border of Indiana.

For the challenged, that means Indiana barely missed being Southern and are a lot more like us than those further North.

And yes, stereotypes are mostly correct in one sense or another.

JFMcNamara
JFMcNamara

@JohnnyReb The article is about football rivalry.  Then it moves to using the football rivalry as an analogy for left versus right politics.  It closes by saying that the environment of today's politics is degrading because we don't respect each other's opinions and are buying into crude stereo types.


I'm not sure how the geography of Indiana really matters.  The Civil war definition of North versus South has nothing to do with the article.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@JFMcNamara @JohnnyReb

Kyle describes how nicely he and others were received by the Irish.

Pointing out that Indiana is almost in the South and therefore has Southern manners is completely appropriate.

I'm just really surprised you and I don't agree.

Snirt

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

@JohnnyReb @JFMcNamara


Your comment goes against the point of the article. Whether if its deep south or far north or liberal west. Once we go out to those places and interact with the people, you will find they are decent well mannered.

JFMcNamara
JFMcNamara

@JohnnyReb @JFMcNamara He also references that it may have been worse had it been an SEC rival.  Wouldn't Southern manners be more in play versus an actual Souther university?

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@McGarnagle @JohnnyReb @JFMcNamara

I've been to enough regions of the country to know your perception not accurate.

There are exceptions but generally the North East is not friendly.  Other regions more so but the South is most friendly.

JFMcNamara
JFMcNamara

In far too many cases, the South is only "friendly" to certain types of people. The West Coast is far, far more friendly than the South to all people.