By Sam Garrett
As a former athlete, coach, current fan, and lover of sports, I am fond of phrases and words that lift up the teams I support and jabs and jokes towards teams I do not support. Numerous times in my life I have connected with amazing people because of our mutual affection for a team, disdain towards an opposing team, or friendly rivalry between “my team” and theirs.
The reason sports rivalries are so meaningful is because of the authentic stories behind why someone might love the Cubs or despise the Patriots. Why would a grown man in Avery County wear a Georgia Bulldogs jacket every day? Authentic love for Georgia. Why would mother and father graduates from UNC decide to name their daughter Jordan? Authentic love for The University of North Carolina. When you listen to people and learn that their father taught them to keep score of a baseball game in a scorebook while listening to “their” team on the radio, or how a mother would rebound for her teenaged daughter that dreamed of playing Division I basketball, you respect the history, the story, and the “why.”
As a follower of the Denver Broncos since 1977, I identify as a Broncos fan. My story is simple, authentic, and unique to me. I moved to Denver in 1977 and lived there until 2007. My family and seemingly everyone I knew loved the Broncos. I witnessed first-hand the “Orange Crush” defense, cried when we lost three Super Bowls in the late 80s, cheered when Elway defied age to win back-to-back rings, and supported Manning when he finished his amazing career wearing the orange and blue. Whether you love or hate the Broncos for any reason, if you take the time to listen, perhaps you can at least respect the authentic nature of my love and support of the Broncos.
Stories, history, legacy, and tradition are what make sports — and specifically college sports — so powerful and important to our culture.
I have been around the High Country since 2019 and full-time since January 1, 2022. I can honestly say I am a fan of App State and App State athletics. I have met some of the coaches and other leaders in the athletic department and their love of sports and the student athletes is apparent. Oh, and by the way, they form great teams, help athletes develop, and, more importantly, encourage amazing young women and men to thrive when they graduate and move on.
In the last 48 hours, I received a weekly correspondence from App State, and I scrolled to a friend’s post on social media. The letter from a high-ranking college official closed with the phrase, “Roll Neers!” The social media post from my App State alum friend expressed sadness about the actions of a few students toward an art installation on campus last Saturday and used the word “cringy” to describe the phrase, “Roll Neers.” As I read the word cringy in the post, I thought, it is cringy, but it is even worse.
Excitement for sports and support for your favorite team is best expressed by authentic enthusiasm and use of unique phrases, gestures, and words. “Roll Neers” is nothing more than a cheap, tired, lazy, imitation of “Roll Tide.” No offense to the person or persons who first uttered it, but, it is terrible (and it is ok for us both to be offended occasionally).
If you want to just copy another school, why not copy Penn and say, “Here’s a toast to dear old App State?” No? Why not copy Nebraska and instead of “Husker Power,” say “Mountaineer Power?” No? Why not copy Texas and say, “Hook ‘em, Mountaineers?” No? These modified phrases are ridiculous because the originals have a meaning, purpose, and history uniquely theirs. In the same way, Roll Neers is ridiculous.
Why would any coach desire to copy another team’s cheer or chant? Why would an administrator want to consciously or unconsciously direct eyes and braincells toward another school? Why would anyone who is passionate about “their” team desire to copy phraseology from another program?
App State, you are better than “Roll Neers.” You have enough history, success, and heart to be boldly and uniquely App State. Today, coaches at App State encourage their athletes by saying, “Today I give my all to App State.”
R.I.P. “Roll ‘Neers.”