Tennessee Volunteer Fans Can Learn From the Detroit Lions' Fanbase

Jessica HarrieContributor ISeptember 28, 2009

KNOXVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 12: A general view of the stadium during a game between the UCLA Bruins and the Tennessee Volunteers on September 12, 2009 at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tennessee. UCLA beat Tennessee 19-15. (Photo by Joe Murphy/Getty Images)

Sunday was a very emotional day for the Detroit Lions and their fans.

After waiting for nearly two years, they won a game, breaking the second-longest losing streak in NFL history.

The most touching moment of the game was watching the players and coaches come back out on the field to thank the fans for all of their support.

The Lions fans were overjoyed and the players had tears in their eyes. It had been too long since they had that feeling. They had been the laughing stock of the NFL and the butt of jokes from every major news outlet.

This win was a huge step on the road to rebuilding their franchise, and they had a reason to celebrate.

If you are not a Lions fan, then just stop and take a second to imagine what it would feel like if your team lost 19 straight games.

Most people would give up. Many would come to expect losing, as if the excitement of "Any Given Sunday" was replaced by Every Given Sunday. Should they even bother watching anymore?

This season has been highly anticipated for the Detroit Lions and their fans. The organization has seen many changes to the staff, the players, and the playbook.

But one thing has not changed: the fans.

The fans at the University of Tennessee could learn a few things from the Detroit Lions' fanbase.

After finishing the 2008 season with a 5-7 record, Tennessee Head Coach Phillip Fulmer "stepped down," along with many members of his coaching staff.

This did not come as a surprise for many Tennessee fans, as they had already been calling for Fulmer to be fired on several fan-created web sites and blogs.

Tennessee fans have long been known as fair-weather fans. If the team is winning, they come out in droves to support them. If they are losing, even if it's the fourth quarter and they are only down by a few scores, they are out of there.

It's hard to believe that one of the most electric towns in college football, would turn its back on a team that didn't even come close to losing out the entire season like the Detroit Lions did last season.

It becomes even harder to believe when one considers that many of their losses were at the hands of other SEC teams that have struggled to improve their own records.

Part of the problem is that college football places so much emphasis on perfection, anything less isn't good enough.

One loss shatters BCS title hopes for many fans (just ask Penn State fans). If getting to the BCS title game was the only reason to play or watch the sport, many teams would have given up trying years ago.

Yes, it's nice to win, but you're going to lose some games eventually. You may even have a couple losing seasons. Get over it. You can't always be the best. That is what makes the sport so exciting in the first place.

Tennessee fans have never felt the sting of losing 19 straight games. They haven't  missed out on postseason play for the last decade like the Lions.

In fact, the Tennessee Vols went to a bowl just two seasons ago when their record was 10-4, and they were only a win away from being bowl eligible last year at 5-7.

Tennessee has started the 2009 season 2-2, and the Detroit Lions are looking to reach that same magic number next week. Both teams are rebuilding with new coaches and new players, but the fans are the same in both cases. The key difference between the Lions fans and the Vol fans is the level of patience.

The Lions were happy to accept last week's win as a step in the right direction, and the fans are just excited to see their team winning again. Tennessee fans need to have this kind of patience with their team.

The new coaches of both of these teams will need time to rebuild, and it's not going to happen overnight. It could take several seasons to get the Vols headed in the right direction.

The question is, will the Vols get rid of Kiffin before they can turn that corner?

Let's hope this season ends better than 5-7.


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