COLUMN: Fans' support makes difference in team spirit

My football knowledge is very limited.

I know what offense and defense is. I also know what a turnover is and of course, a touchdown, but that's it. However, it doesn't take a die-hard sports fan to realize that although we lost to the Northern Illinois Huskies this weekend, the Ball State fans had their hearts in the game -- they wanted a win and showed amazing support.

That's impressive.

That's dedication.

And that says a lot about Cardinal football support.

A mix of Ball State students, parents and alumni filled the stands, approximately 200 to 300 strong. Yeah we had a very small percentage of people compared to Northern Illinois, but I would boldly say we showed just as much spirit.

We didn't even need live animals to get excited. For those of you who weren't there, the Northern Illinois cheerleaders ran actual Husky dogs across the field after every NIU touchdown throughout the game. This usually sparked the most crowd involvement from the opposing team.

I am proud to say Charlie Cardinal and the BSU cheerleaders were enough to get our crowd excited. During the second half, red flags and banners waved. Fans clapped while they followed the BSU cheerleaders in shouting defense and offense cheers.

One of the most admirable things about these supporters is the fact that they made the four and a half hour drive from central Indiana to Northern Illinois through cottonball-like fog. The weather was terrible on the way there and the way back. Anyone who made the drive deserves a medal for the risky driving conditions

Some students and dedicated relatives of the players were wearing BSU football jerseys were in the stands.

The most heart-wrenching and inspiring fan, in my opinion, was Cory Alsberry, senior outside linebacker Vemard Alsberry's 13-year-old brother. He made the biggest impact on me.

He was probably only 4 feet tall, but that didn't stop him from radiating spirit and enthusiasm and making himself heard from the stands. I noticed him during the third quarter, and watched his face turn from excited and hopeful to so solemn and tense in the fourth, that he couldn't even crack a smile. Even when the score was 29-33 towards the very end, Cory hadn't given up yet.

"We're hopefully still going to win," he told me as he rooted for his big brother's team.

When the game ended, sheer sadness fell across Cory's face as his head dropped, and he shook his head. I asked him what he was thinking at this point, and he said, "My brother did a good job this season and I love him."

During the first half, the fans were great. They were into the game, but nothing compared to the emotional uproar of the second half. With 4:36 to go in the third quarter, flags waved, Ball State fans joined the cheerleaders in cheering, and everyone was standing. Faces were solemn, and most hands were clenched in a clapping position.

During the Kent State home game two weeks ago, sadly, more than half the fans left by the end of the fourth quarter. Not so for the Northern Illinois game. Faces in the crowd were frozen in a shocked,"it's really over," type of expression even after the game ended. Most people actually stood paralyzed for at least 30 seconds after the announcer announced the sad news.

Good job fans.Your support made a difference even though we didn't win.

There was nothing more you could have done.

Write to Meghan at mefarr@bsu.edu.


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