The college football world has been abuzz lately with the story of how the 130 year old Oak trees at Toomer’s Corner at Auburn University, allegedly by a disgruntled Alabama fan. According to published reports, this fan was upset both by a report that suggested that Auburn students celebrated the death of legendary Alabama coach Bear Bryant at the site of the tress and that they had “desecrated” a statue of Bryant with a Cam Newton shirt earlier in the year.
All I have to say is: really? Really? This is what sports fandom has come to?
Chicago is known as an intense sports town, with fierce loyalties and fiery rivalries. There is certainly no love lost between Bears and Packers fans or Cubs and White Sox followers. In the college world, polarizing schools like Michigan, Ohio State, and Notre Dame send multitudes of dedicated alumni to the city after every graduation. In other words, we know what it is to love sports teams, and to hate them too.
But despite all that, the idea of doing something like what was done at Auburn University is near unthinkable. Those trees weren’t just part of the campus. They weren’t just symbols of Auburn football. They were monuments that linked generations of Auburn students and fans. Monuments that now will likely be lost to future students because of one Alabama fan’s absurd actions.