Setting rivalries aside: Response to tragedy shows what makes college sports special

 

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Members of the Troy and JSU baseball teams pose together after the Trojans donated over $100 toward Jacksonville tornado relief. (JSU Sportswire)

Daniel Mayes, Sports Editor

 

Jacksonville State and Troy have been bitter rivals on fields and courts since the two universities used to “Battle for the Ol’ School Bell” beginning back in 1924. There hasn’t been much love lost between the two schools in the near century of gutting games and semi-playful insults that have been exchanged.

Yet last week before the Gamecocks played the Trojans at Choccolocco Park, the athletics department at the school formerly known as Troy State donated $1,100 for tornado relief efforts.

Troy’s donations haven’t been all of the generosity shown to the Gamecocks in their time of need.

UAB collected water and supplies to send back to Jacksonville after the JSU softball team took on the Blazers on March 28.

Many of the softball team’s opponents since the storms have given the players goodie bags after their games.

Samford’s athletic department made a delivery of food and supply donations to Jacksonville on Tuesday.

Droves of students from several universities in the surrounding area have made the trek to Jacksonville to help with cleanup.

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Students from the University of Alabama get a little “cocky,” showing off the Fear the Beak hand gesture with President Beehler while helping paint the old Kitty Stone Elementary School. Tuscaloosa was hit by an EF-4 tornado on April 27, 2011 (photo via Jacksonville State University/Facebook).

This. This is what makes college athletics special.

Rivalries set aside. “Sports hate” forgotten (for at least a little while). Any thought of animosity on the field is pushed out in times of need.

Jacksonville State and other universities like it play against and interact with other schools in their conference and vicinity so often that a strong bond forms between the fans and athletes and administrators of each school.

When things are going good, these bonds manifest bitter rivalries on the field.

When tragedy strikes, these rivalries are revealed to be friendly, healthy competition between members of a family.

College athletics is a family.

JSU is a wounded member of that family right now, and all of its brother and sister universities join together in helping nurse them back to their feet much more quickly than they can do on their own.

The NCAA might as well change to the NCAF. It’s the National Collegiate Athletic Family.

And when JSU does get back on their feet, you best believe they’ll still want to Whup Troy.

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