Things That Aren’t Really Things: Conference Solidarity

Conference solidarity is a crock. We use it as a defense mechanism to further our denial that our teams are terrible. Obviously, I can’t stop people from picking teams they want to win based on conference affiliation, but I would just like to point out that the justification of “becuz SEC” is not a good enough reason. There are better reasons out there. Maybe the team you want to win actually beat your team so you have a rooted interest in them not getting slobberknocked off the field. Conference solidarity is a crutch.

We’ve all heard this, or seen the tweets. 

“SEC all day, baby!”

“Go ACC!”

“Can’t wait for the Big Ten to dominate this year!”

It’s time this stopped, because it is ridiculous. 

Everyone is very familiar with generic SEC fans who cheer for the teams in their team’s conference. They all say the same thing:

Well, I want Team X to win because they’re at least in the SEC. 

This is wrong. Maybe not factually, but morally and definitely ethically. This is the sports equivalent of plagiarism. Florida has been patently awful for the past two seasons, they can’t come up with any quality wins, except Georgia (neener, neener) but they didn’t have their star running back. Regardless, I am guilty of adopting the “my conference can beat your conference” mindset for the SEC–or at least starting to. It turns out that I harbor far too much hatred for the other teams in the SEC that are any good to cheer for anyone other than the Gators. 

Additionally, the generic SEC fandom has hit a fever pitch in recent years and the defense of it has been out of the notion of “Conference Pride.” If you were to ask one of these fans why they cheer for any old SEC team against an interconference opponent, they come up with a reason contrived after the fact: the conference gets reputation and extra money if they win. This isn’t false, but it’s not the reason. SEC fans have become mercenary to the point of hopping on the bandwagon of the best team in the conference and living vicariously through them. This is not ok. This is fair weather fandom on steroids. 

What’s worse is that this behavior has become accepted and encouraged. In fact, ESPN is banking on this conference pride myth with its new SEC Network. Moreover, the Worldwide Leader has syndicated Paul Finebaum–aka PAWWWWWL for those in the state of Alabama–and simulcasts his radio show daily on this network. Finebaum is all about SEC superiority that he wrote a book literally titled My Conference Can Beat Your Conference. The inmates are running the asylum. 

Don’t get me wrong. I believe that the SEC is top to bottom the best conference in football, sorry as they can be in basketball, and exceptional across the board in baseball and softball–not accounting for the other non-revenue sports where the conference has enjoyed immense success. I enjoy watching SEC teams play because they are generally better than their opponent in terms of size, speed, and sheer athleticism. But, the best team from the SEC isn’t always the best team in the country. This year proved that. 

The problem is that people are forsaking their bad teams and piling on the bandwagon of the conference’s alpha. That’s not what being a fan looks like, that’s what impersonating Drake looks like. Not ok. 

The SEC in terms of conference solidarity is patient zero. And now many of the other power conferences are infected. As recently as last night, I saw my Facebook feed light up with ACC solidarity posts. Let’s be clear: I don’t know many Duke fans. These were Georgia Tech fans who piled on Duke’s bandwagon–I’m frankly surprised there was room–and are using the boon for the Blue Devils to validate the conference that Tech plays in. 

The ACC does not need validation in basketball, it is the best conference. Moreover, Tech is awfully, miserably, terribly bad. Duke winning doesn’t change that and it does not materially change the clout of the conference, nor does it excuse Tech’s pathetic inability to defeat inferior teams. This trend needs to be nipped in the bud. Tech fans are not particularly fond of Duke, and it’s a one-sided rivalry, but a rivalry nonetheless. This solidarity nonsense has people cheering for their mortal enemies under the guise of conference pride. I just don’t know how to react to this. Stop it! Pull yourselves together and hate the teams you’re supposed to hate!

Stop trying to make “fetch” happen.

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