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There’s No Wrong Way to Hate Georgia

So join me, won’t you?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 11 Georgia at Auburn

Maybe you hate Alabama the most. You grew up surrounded by Alabama fans. Maybe the Iron Bowl is your season finale. The one that matters above all else. Maybe you want nothing more than to show up to work the Monday after the Iron Bowl with that smug look of “my team just kicked your team’s ass.” The iron bowl may matter the most because of one boss or co-worker or in-law. This is fine.

Maybe the Georgia game is just another game to you, because your hate is directed elsewhere. Maybe you grew up in Mobile and loathe LSU or grew up in Florida and hate the Gators. This is also fine.

Maybe you grew up outside the SEC, outside of the influence of collegiate athletics. You studied at Auburn for actual scholastic reasons and became a fan as an adult. This is also fine.

Maybe you don’t hate Georgia. Maybe the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry is a touchy weekend in your home. Maybe you married a Georgia fan, a parent did (and you chose the right side). Maybe you dread the Auburn/Georgia game. The tension in the house before the game is palpable. The two parties watch the game in separate rooms, only to wake up Sunday morning like everything is normal again. This, too, is fine.

Or maybe you’re like me. Maybe the Georgia game isn’t your season finale, it’s something different. It’s The Red Wedding, so to speak. Nina Meyers being the mole at CTU. The climax of the season, even if it isn’t the finale. The episode that knots your stomach and makes you sweat on your couch. The episode you’ve been dreading since the season premiere, because you’ve seen this script already.

I took an informal poll on twitter the other day:

This game, this rivalry, it means the most to me. I hate Georgia more than any other school in the country. I was very encouraged by all the Georgia hate in the replies.

I’ve talked about this before, but for the first 6 years I was an Auburn fan, I never actually got to watch the Auburn/Georgia game. I came of age as a sports fan right around 2002, 2003 and often went camping on November weekends with the boy scouts. They always conflicted with the Georgia game. Always.

On a brisk November evening in Charleston, South Carolina, I was huddled around a radio on the flight deck of the USS Yorktown. The year was 2005. We had barely picked up a Georgia radio broadcast in the first quarter. I listened to the agony of Larry Munson describe his despair as Brandon Cox connected with Devin Aromashodu. In 2006 and 2007, I carried a backpack and a walk-man radio up Mount Cheaha as my heart was ripped out in excruciating fashion. Luckily, Rod was with me every step of the way. In Pensacola Florida, 2008, I sat in a camping chair next to an air strip. The Blue Angels roared overhead as I covered my ears, desperate to make out the Auburn radio broadcast.

This is how my Auburn fandom was formed. Auburn went undefeated in Iron Bowls from 4th grade to 9th grade. My most formidable years as a fan. My introduction to college football, and the rivalry with Alabama, mostly consisted of ugly wins. By the time the 2008 Iron Bowl rolled around, the loss was a forgone conclusion. The end of the Iron Bowl streak over Alabama was greeted like an old friend (even though it was far from pleasant).

The Georgia series is the exact opposite of that. I hate Georgia, primarily, because there have been too many times Auburn has gotten embarrassed by Georgia when Auburn was superior, or at least equal to, the Bulldogs. Losing games over and over like that impacts a fan. It impacted me. It’s the closest thing to abuse that sports can entail. Painter Sharpless mentioned something along these lines on the latest Auburn Observer podcast (subscribe to that, by the way). I’ll admit it freely: Georgia and Kirby Smart live rent free in my head.

2020 brings us an Auburn/Georgia game that isn’t situated as the penultimate episode of the season. The 2020 edition is an early season “battle,” as Gus would say.

You know what made the Red Wedding so brutal? We loved the Starks, and Roose Bolton was so damn hateable. You know who else is hateable? Georgia is hateable. Kirby Smart is hateable. Mark Richt was hateable. I hate Georgia for the exact reason they would love to hear: they just beat us too damn much.

“Hate” gets tossed around a lot in 2020. Actual hate is bad. Sports don’t matter, though. I hate Georgia because I chose Auburn, and Georgia fans/players/coaches chose Georgia. Sports hate is fun; sports hate brings life to rivalries. So maybe you don’t hate Georgia exactly like I hate Georgia. Maybe you do. For sixty minutes on Saturday, I encourage you to lean into sports hate.

To hell with Georgia, and War Damn Eagle.