Recently, SEC fans have further removed themselves from other college football fans by showing allegiance to their conference. Most college football fans find the concept of conference pride as illogical and revolting, but not SEC fans.
SEC fans are willing to do what other college football fans are not: cheer for other teams within their own conference including their most hated rival. Does this mean that when UGA plays a non-conference game that Florida fans are on all fours barking? No, of course not, but it does mean that they want UGA to win. Why? Simply, UGA represents the SEC. I refer to this phenomenon as SEC Nationalism.
Nationalism as defined by Merriam-Webster is "loyalty and devotion to a nation, especially, a sense of consciousness exalting one nation above all others, and placing primary emphasis on promotion of its culture and interests as opposed to those of other nations." Individuals within the same nation generally have the same values, same religion, same national identity, and membership in a nation is usually involuntary and determined by birth.
The South as a whole as described by John Shelton Reed, “Southerners are a separated ethnic group.” Southerners share a distinctive history that contains memories of difficult times such as slavery, the Civil War (Reconstruction), the Great Depression, segregation, and the Civil Rights Movement.
While the opinions of these events vary greatly amongst individual Southerners, most will agree that these events help define their current culture. The bond and pride that Southerners share is derived from being isolated (geographically, politically, and socially), from overcoming demanding and strenuous periods of time, and from being different.
True Southerners enjoy speaking with their own dialect, cooking food in their own way, creating their own style of music and literature, and saying “if you don’t like it, you can leave!”
SEC football has a unique shared history, which includes being rurally isolated, being overlooked, and “overcoming the northern bias.” SEC football is finally getting the national attention and respect it deserves, but SEC football fans have yet to forget being slighted for so many years. The brand of football in the SEC is different; the combination of power and speed goes unrivaled.
The SEC is not defined by tradition, although it does have great tradition. The SEC is defined by passion. The passion of the players, the passion of the fans, the type of passion that is not learned, but inherited. SEC fans have many differences; fans may hate each other at times, but all fans respect each other because they share the same passion, SEC football!
South Eastern Conference football does not only represent the best style of college football, it is representative of the Southern culture. The next time you hear “S-E-C” being chanted at a football stadium, realize that those fans are not only cheering for SEC football they are celebrating their culture, the Southern culture. And “if you don’t like it, you can leave!”