Charlotte 49ers Football Fan Forecast: Fairweather

Prev1 of 3Next
Use your ← → (arrow) keys to browse

1100_IMG_4240

Last Saturday an impressive football team from just up the road in Durham, NC gave the Charlotte 49ers a little taste of FCS caliber competition.  In the minutes, hours, and days following the final snap this weekend I read story after story, analysis after analysis, and review after review from self-proclaimed college football experts.  Some said the loss could be attributed to Matt Johnson’s five interceptions.  Some said it wasn’t just Johnson’s fault and blamed the team’s seven turnovers.  Other “Monday morning quarterbacks” seemed to feel like dropped passes and a lackluster effort on special teams were at fault for the blowout loss.  While I’ll agree, a team committing seven turnovers (whether in the NFL or in Pop Warner) will have a difficult time winning anything other than the coin toss, I don’t necessarily feel like all of the blame should rest there.

Before I continue, a little background about me that’s not in my Pick Axe profile.  I’m not a football expert.  I’ve never played a day of organized football in my life.  Well with the exception of some intramural flag football I played in college (we’ll just say I wasn’t very good, and leave it at that).  Not to say that I don’t have the size or mindset for it, but my mother was always a little afraid I’d get hurt, so my youth came and went without ever getting to hit someone in shoulder pads.  I have however, participated in plenty of organized sports contests.  I’ve played soccer since I was six, ran and competed in throwing events in track and field, have officiated soccer on the amateur and high school level, and even dabbled in coaching.  I love football.  Both college and at the professional level.  I never truly appreciated college football until about two months ago when I attended my first Charlotte 49ers Football practice, but that’s simply because I’m fiercely loyal.  My alma mater never had a football team before this year and I just felt it would be a personal affront to them and my scruples if I donned a college football jersey from any other school than my own.  For those who haven’t read my Pick Axe profile, I attended UNC Charlotte from 1998 to 2002 and bleed 49er green and gold.  Since 1998 I’ve missed very few men’s and women’s soccer games, men’s and women’s basketball games, and try to hit as many baseball and softball games as I can.  During my time as a student at UNC Charlotte (4 1/2 years) I attended every volleyball game (home and away), every home men’s and women’s basketball game, and traveled to every volleyball and men’s basketball conference tournament.  It’s safe to say, 49er athletics is important to me and is a significant part of my life.

With all of that said, I want to discuss an important aspect of college football known as the “12th man.”  For those unaware of even the most basic football rules, each team is permitted 11 players on the field at one time.  Who is the “12th man” then you ask??  The coach??  The athletic trainer??  The water boy??  No, the “12th man” is YOU.  It’s the fans.  The spectators.  The butts in the seats who penciled the 49ers in for three hours out of their potentially busy Saturday afternoon.  The “12th man” is the guy (or gal) who is there for the team if they need him.  The guy (or gal) who is there in a pinch and simply by being present, can help their team to victory.  The guy (or gal) who knows they’ll never play a snap in their team’s uniform but would do anything to help them win.

Don’t believe me?  No worries, you don’t have to take my word for it.  The storied and decorated college football program at Texas A&M has been utilizing the “12th man” to defeat opponents since 1922.  According to the website www.aggietraditions.tamu.edu the tradition of the “12th man” began when a Texas A&M football coach remembered that he had a player in the press box helping reporters identify players on the field.  When the coach realized this, he called the player from the stands, had him dress and stand ready on the sidelines to help his team to victory if his assistance became necessary.  The player’s name was E. King Gill, and he never actually left the sidelines during that game.  Texas A&M won the game 22-14 and after the game Gill said, “I wish I could say that I went in and ran for the winning touchdown, but I did not. I simply stood by in case my team needed me.”

The next statement was taken directly from the above mentioned website and perfectly describes the nature and purpose of the “12th man.”

“This gesture was more than enough for the Aggie Team. Although Gill did not play in the game, he had accepted the call to help his team. He came to be thought of as the Twelfth Man because he stood ready for duty in the event that the eleven men on the gridiron needed assistance. That spirit of readiness for service, desire to support, and enthusiasm helped kindle a flame of devotion among the entire student body; a spirit that has grown vigorously throughout the years. The entire student body at A&M is the Twelfth Man, and they stand during the entire game to show their support. The 12th Man is always in the stands waiting to be called upon if they are needed.”

So what does that have to do with the Charlotte 49ers and the contest watched by so many of us in disbelief this past weekend?  Well, here’s my disclaimer.  If your feelings are easily hurt, stop reading now.

Prev1 of 3Next
Use your ← → (arrow) keys to browse

Topics: Charlotte 49ers, Charlotte 49ers Football, Football

Want more from Pick Axe Digest?  
Subscribe to FanSided Daily for your morning fix. Enter your email and stay in the know.
  • Sydney Hunte

    Niners fans–your comments welcome! Let’s hear what you have to say.

  • PickAxeDigest

    Comments are welcomed and encouraged…especially on a topic like this

  • Ryan S

    As a student here, a loyal supporter of all Charlotte sports (including women’s) I really got a kick out of this article. I have been saying since I started here last fall that our student support was horrible. Students here all go home on weekends, missing out on the true college experience. I see more Chapel Hill shirts than I do Charlotte. Football changed that, for a week. Heck, even at the Inaugural game I saw a guy wearing a Tar Heel hat. Needless to say I attempted to call him out but by the time I saw it I lost my voice from cheering. Second game, same guy, same hat. This goes beyond football. Our beloved soccer team who took on Chapel Hill in a Cinderella Story in Hoover, AL cannot even get a true crowd, Minus the front 4 rows cheering. Halton Arena has not even been filled since I have been here. Our school of just under 30,000 students (comparable to NC State) fails to fill a 9,000 seat arena. Homecoming game last year I got chills because Halton was on their feet, loud and proud. Never again have I experienced that. I could go on for a 4 page paper on our lackadaisical student support, fair-weather fans, whatever you want to call it. But for the sake of time. My rant is over.

    • PickAxeDigest

      MSoc support actually has been pretty good at the games I’ve been to…as for the crowd cheering…that takes some time to get people on board…

      –Sydney

  • Shannon

    I have been shocked by the lack of student support for this team. Maybe some of the student tickets should be reallocated for alumni that have been trying to get tickets. Tickets go on sale too late for many alumni to get last minute babysitters, change work schedules, etc. Alumni helped bring football to the school and should get priority over the current students. Especially when said students are leaving the games in droves. I’ve never even attended this school and bought FSL’s to guarantee I always had a ticket. And I’ve kept my butt in my seat! I also plan on traveling to the away games. It’s a sad day when a high school drop out has more respect for those players and more team spirit than an actual student!

    • Guest

      Thanks for reading and your input!
      Half of those students that were leaving the game probably were the same ones that were complaining that they couldn’t get tickets on 8/31. Can’t have it both ways.

    • PickAxeDigest

      Thanks for reading and your input!

      Half of those students that were leaving the game probably were the same ones that were complaining that they couldn’t get tickets on 8/31. Can’t have it both ways.

      –Sydney

    • Danls86

      Alumni were the ones actually paying for the program so I agree, they should get priority tickets!

  • Q. Ross

    …and then, there were the “F**K YOU CENTRAL” chants that my section started. They did it no fewer than three times in the first quarter alone.

    I left at halftime because I was just so disgusted and did not want to be associated with fans like those.

    • Shannon

      That’s pathetic that trash like that is running off fans. Maybe UNCC should add a Manners and Respect 101 class for all incoming freshmen. Sorry you had that experience.

      • Q. Ross

        Keep this in mind too: I’ve only left two games early in the 2.5 years since transferring. One was the Dayton massacre last season (where I thought I broke my wrist in anger/disbelief over what just happened) and here.

        It takes an effort to get me to leave.

      • Bradin Routh

        why are freshman going to be required to take this when, at least in my section, the people starting the profain chants are upperclassmen?

    • PickAxeDigest

      Had one student I know say on FB that “profane chants are the funniest”. They actually aren’t–they’re disrespectful and rude.
      If it had been vice versa our students would have been falling over themselves to get them banned from any future sporting event.

  • Ron Maurice

    Completely agree with Paul on this. I’m lucky enough to have a friend with PSL’s and have been to 2/3 games already with plans to attend Homecoming Game next. At these games, I’ve been shocked at all the empty seats left by students at half-time. The only question that matters now is how do we fix this? How do you encourage students to appreciate and support their team the same as the alumni do?

  • Chris Salvador

    As an alumnus now living out of state I am saddened to see this. I LONGED for the day I could attend a 49ers football game. Current students truly don’t know what they’re missing.

  • Pingback: Charlotte 49ers fans: Let's have some class - Pick Axe Digest - A Charlotte 49ers Site - News, Blogs, Opinion and more.

  • Q. Ross

    That said, it’s easy for Alumni to complain about fan support considering the most vocal critics came from an era where MBB was actually ranked. When you’ve been a non-factor in (what was) your flagship sport for close to a decade, of course student support will fall off the cliff.

    It’s easy to sit here and think that the Niner brand is in the same shape now as it was at the end of 2005 when we didn’t even have football and got kicked out of C-USA because of it. I hate to sound like everyone’s favorite former baseball All-American (and believe me, it hurts to agree with him), but he’s right about how awful Charlotte’s branding/fan support is. Just having football was not about to change it overnight.

    What happens now?

    I shudder to think how awful attendance will probably be for MBB now.

    • GuestDavid

      This man has the same point as me! When you haven’t been good in ANYTHING for years students begin to stop attending games. You alumni were there when the basketball program was something to brag about. Why attend the games if you can’t even brag about the effort they put in. I was a uncc student and witnessed a lot of athletes not taking themselves seriously off the court or on it. How can you expect the fans to take a team seriously when the players don’t take themselves seriously?? Now,t football hasn’t done anything to the fans so they should give them a chance to become mediocre first.

  • Drew Wademan

    I don’t know who the author is but he can write his ass off! :)

  • Bradin Routh

    I completely agree. As a student at UNCC I was shocked at the shear numbers that leave the stadium from the students half of the field. I was one of the ones complaining that first week because i didnt get a ticket in the first lottery. When i was awarded one in the second lottery my week was made. I was in section 124 row like 6 until the very end of the game when i was jumping the wall to run on the field and celebrate with the team. I was on row 1 the second week and row 4 this past weekend and have yet to leave a game early. I plan to attend all but one football game this year and im only missing the one on Oct. 5 because of fall break. I love my niners

  • Q. Ross

    Oh, wait. Weren’t the alumni the first ones to not only pitch a hissy fit over Bobby Lutz getting fired, but also turn on Alan Major as soon as their tears dried up (i.e.: Day 2 of the Major tenure)?

    This is why alums shouldn’t talk about fan support.

TEAMFeed More 49ers news from the Fansided Network

Hot on the Web From golf.com