I was born in 1974, the year that Barry Switzer and the University of Oklahoma won the NCAA National Championship. I suppose I was born to be a Sooner fan.
As a kid a had a dog named Sooner. I pretended I ran the wishbone in backyard games. I can’t tell you how many football games I attended in Norman, but I can tell you that I remember being able to go play on the field and get player’s autographs after the games.
I have been fortunate enough to have been to National Championships and bowl games, and hugged a complete stranger while sitting in the stands in College Station the year OU fans stormed the field and we feared that we were probably going to get executed by the Aggie fans for doing so.
I have been blessed to feel the wonderful feelings of pride that come along with being a Sooner Fan.
I also remember walking into my college dorm room in April of 1995, turning on the television and watching the smoke rise up from the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in OKC.
My heart has broken over the years at the dozens of tornados that have ravished my home state, and the loss and brokenness left behind in their wake.
Living in Oklahoma is not always easy. We are a state built on heart ache dating back to the Trail of Tears. We are a state that sees the harshness that life will throw at you from time to time, and we are a community of survivors that keeps on moving forward even before the dust has started to settle.
And that is why we are helpers, because we know we would not be here if not from the help of others.
Saturday we play Tulane University. Oklahoma is favored by over 30 points. We have a starting quarterback that is favored to win the Heisman Trophy, leading a team that is projected to make a run for a national title.
We are also playing in Norman, because of the aftermath of Hurricane Ima has made playing in New Orleans impossible. One of my high school friends is the Dean of Students at Tulane. She stayed behind instead of evacuating because she was there helping her students that were unable to evacuate themselves. Why? Not because she is an Oklahoman and that’s what we do. Because she is a human being, that that is what we are made be.
Tulane’s football team was evacuated to Birmingham, Alabama. Chances are, they will return there, or somewhere else after the game. Tulane is shut down. Classes will go online and no student will return to campus until October.
We as Oklahoman’s now this strife. We have been there ourselves and we feel the pain and heartache that comes with natural disasters.
Saturdays in Norman during football season are magical. Perhaps one of the most wonderful feelings in the world. The campus buzzes with excitement, people are bustling all around the stadium, the feeling is nothing short of electric.
But this Saturday has a different feel, a twist if you will. We will be hosting Tulane, but the game is considered their “home” game. They will get the ticket sales and wear their home colors.
But it will feel anything but home to them.
I hope the University of Oklahoma does everything possible to make them feel like the home team. I hope the scoreboard is green, that the electronic ribbon reads “DEFENSE” when their offense is on the field, and I hope they shoot off the fireworks when a Tulane player scores and when they enter the field.
We are no strangers to winning and celebration in Norman. Winning is Normal in Norman. We are also no stranger to loss, the kind of real loss that sometimes can break a soul down.
As a Sooner fan that bleeds Crimson, for one day it should be fine to wear Green to a game. For a day it should be wonderful to wear beads, and root for a team that you don’t always root for. No one says you can’t root for the Sooners, just be sure to root for the other team as well.
Sometimes life is bigger than football.
As a Sooner fan, can you imagine being a Tulane football player, running onto the field Saturday to the booming noise of a stadium full of green, seeing fireworks blasting in the distance?
As a human, can you imagine the feeling of pride you get when you help someone feel just the slightest bit better, knowing they will not be going home for a while?
If your neighbor lost their home, wouldn’t you invite them into yours? Wouldn’t you do all you could to make them feel welcome?
I was born in Oklahoma. I was raised here, and chances are I will die here. The world is a scary place and I have seen the best and worst of human beings in my travels. The one constant I know is that no matter where I go and what I see, I will always feel love and peace here. I will always have a place to rest my head and my soul in Oklahoma.
Oklahoma is Home to me, because the people here make it so.
Let the people around the world, who will be watching the game this Saturday be reminded of that fact.
Wear Green on the outside, because Crimson will always flow on the inside.
Don’t be a fan of football, be a champion of kindness.