LLOYD: Fans make college football, and I’m a fan of great fans

BYU vs. Utah State
2011-09-29T00:30:00Z 2013-11-06T21:45:08Z LLOYD: Fans make college football, and I’m a fan of great fansJared Lloyd - Daily Herald Daily Herald
September 29, 2011 12:30 am  • 

I love game day.

It's invigorating to see thousands and thousands of people gather to watch a couple dozen young men play football for a few hours.

To me, the experience of the people who have paid to enjoy the game is as much a part of the atmosphere as the contest itself.

Stadiums are filled with sights and sounds, smells and tastes, emotion and anticipation, all of which creates a memorable experience.

But while winning and losing has the biggest effect in making a football game enjoyable for the supporters of a given, how people - particularly visitors - are treated by the others in attendance also affects the way the event is viewed.

Thus it was gratifying to receive the following email from Kenny Scholz, a Knight supporter:

My wife Robin and I both traveled from Orlando to Provo to watch the UCF-BYU football game. Although we fully expected the Knights to come away with a victory and were disappointed in the game's outcome, we wanted to let you know what a GREAT time we had during our trip. From the moment we arrived in Provo, everyone we met was friendly and expressed their appreciation that we had chosen to come visit their beautiful city. En route to the game, we were stopped numerous times by BYU attired fans welcoming us and wishing the Knights good luck in the game. Once in the stadium, the enthusiasm and energy of the home crowd was fun to experience, except of course when the Cougars scored.

So, saying all that, Robin and I thank everyone we met in Provo for making our trip such a wonderful event. Hopefully, when BYU comes to Orlando to play the Knights in 2014, the fans that travel our way will be welcomed with the same warmth and enjoy their trip as much as we did ours.

Thank you to everyone at BYU and in Provo for being such gracious hosts.

Best Regards and good luck on the rest of your season.

I have talked to dozens of BYU fans who traveled to Ole Miss and/or Texas and almost invariably everyone spoke well of how the Rebel and the Longhorn fans treated the visitors.

The Grove in Oxford, Miss., has brought many positive recollections from Cougar fans as they remember the willingness of the Ole Miss tailgaters to invite strangers to enjoy their feasts and talk pleasantly about the upcoming contest.

The Rebel supporters passionately wanted their team to win, but they appreciated the importance of being civil and hospitable to those around them no matter which team they cheered for.

I can't help but wonder if some of the people who treated the Central Florida visitors so well had experienced similar pleasantries when they visited Mississippi and Texas.

But whether they did or not, I think the experience of Kenny Scholz and his wife is one that Cougar fans should seek to replicate with every team that visits LaVell Edwards Stadium.

I talked to Brandon Doman and Kelly Poppinga, two former Cougar players that are now coaches, about their own experiences and both said that every game they've participated in when in the South are ones they enjoyed.

"I was really impressed with the way those fans were professional fans," Doman said. "They were fantastic. They treated us really well. Those are football towns in a football part of the world. They know how to do it and they do it right. It's fun to play a game in the South because they understand that these young men are coming in to battle and they appreciate the battle.

The two believe that visitors to BYU should be treated the same way.

"Hopefully our fans treat others well," Poppinga said. "I want them to be loud and crazy and going nuts when the defense is on the field. I think for the most part our fans are respectful of the opposition, although maybe two or three games a year they get a little carried away."

Friday might be one of those times, however.

This is probably the second-most emotionally charged game as it pits two in-state schools against each other. Other than a visit by Utah State, only when Utah comes to town is there more risk of people getting too caught up in the rivalry.

These type of games bring out pent-up animosities and incivilities - but that also provides the best chance to prove that BYU supporters are going to choose a higher road.

I know Utah State fans in the past have been on the rowdy side and that there might be some flare-ups between the more aggressive Aggies and Cougars.

Overall, though, I think it would be great to have the majority of BYU faithful treat the the visiting fans of USU with respect and class - and then, like Scholz, have each side cheer like crazy for their team to win.

I don't know if I'll be getting any emails from Logan over the weekend but I certainly would enjoy hearing from the Aggies about what their experience was like.

Hopefully it will be as positive as the one had by Scholz and the UCF fans who made the trip from Florida.

Daily Herald sports editor Jared Lloyd can be reached at 801-344-2555 or jlloyd@heraldextra.com. He can also be followed on Twitter at @JaredrLloyd.


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