Taylor Hawkins Sports Editor
On Tuesday night, the College World Series came to a close, and although Mississippi State was not the victor, they made an entire state proud.
The Bulldogs reached the championship series after a brutal slate that consisted of Virginia, Oregon State and Indiana.
They faced up against a UCLA team with an incredible amount of quality arms that seemed destined for victory.
Though the Bulldogs fought, they were unable to achieve their first national title. It was a wonderful story an underdog searching for glory.
MSU has nothing to be ashamed of. They left absolutely everything on the field.
The MSU fans were also impressive as they absolutely packed Ameritrade Park in Omaha, embarrassing the turnout from the Bruins fans.
During the first game on Monday, College World Series announcer Mike Patrick made a statement supporting the passion and loyalty of State fans, but it was taken the wrong way.
“The coaches told us this morning a lot of people came here from Mississippi that can't afford the trip,” said Patrick. “But they came here to support their kids. They are so proud of them and everybody is waiting for this team to explode.”
What struck me as incredible was how many people of Mississippi went into a frenzy. The social media sites were filled with people damning Patrick for a statement that was made to him by MSU head coach John Cohen.
Mississippians are extremely proud of where we are from. The land and atmosphere can be great. The hospitality here is almost ancient in contrast with other states, and that says a lot about our country as a whole. The state is full of hard-working citizens that still do things the old-fashioned way.
And that’s not a bad thing.
Mississippi is not, however, without flaws.
I love my state, but I won’t blindly accept its faults. Some of the statistics are just embarrassing, and we could do more to fix them.
Mississippi ranks next to last in obesity at 32.2 percent, following only West Virginia.
In September 2012, the Huffington Post ran its yearly story on poverty that showed Mississippi as the poorest state in the country with 22.6 percent of the population under the poverty line.
In May, we had a 9.1 percent unemployment rate, the second highest in the nation.
I’m not throwing these numbers out to make people mad, but if we can’t see the problem, there is no chance for a solution.
Many seem have lost the desire to succeed. Too many of us have accepted the decline in our state, yet we keep trying to tell everyone how great it is here. Those statistics may leave some wondering if things are as great as we make them out to be.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t get back to where we once were. That doesn’t me we can’t change. We just have to actually do it.
The first step in fixing our state is to bring the people together.
For a very short time at the end of State’s CWS run, almost everyone seemed to come together. Even many Ole Miss fans, though not all, cheered for an MSU win, a win for their state.
I can honestly say that I was not supportive of a MSU National Championship, but as I thought long and hard about it, I finally realized why.
After the game, however, I felt bad for them. I hated seeing my friends so distraught.
I put myself in their position and realized how bad they must be hurting. I know I would be if I was in their position. If you add rival fans gloating at the loss, it is a blueprint for disaster.
I had no animosity towards the kids who were playing. They worked hard and deserved it. I had an issue with the fans. There is so much bad blood between the Ole Miss and MSU fan bases that it is sickening.
But I remembered why I couldn’t pull for them to begin with.
Throughout the post-season, MSU fans kept using the well worn phrase O.M.A.H.A., which stands for Ole Miss at home again. Their football coach only refers to Ole Miss as TSUN, or the school up north.
Ole Miss fans countered by calling MSU TSBU, or the school beneath us. They also constantly mock State’s use of the cowbell.
This is not a chastisement of Ole Miss fans. Like I said, I wasn’t pulling for the Dawgs. After 50 weeks of State putting Ole Miss down, I wasn’t about to cheer for them, but this works both ways. Ole Miss fans can be just as cruel and bitter. I wouldn’t have expected them to pull for the Rebels in the same situation. Maybe that is where the problem lies. We have no faith in each other.
I’m all for a heated rivalry, but this State vs. Ole Miss debacle often gets out of hand. It shouldn’t continue at this level. It will either grow and separate us all, or we can clean it up now.
I suppose I am just as guilty as anybody. Maybe I was just bitter, but the first step is realizing it. Only then can we strive for change.
It may sound asinine to compare sporting events to social issues, but it has to start somewhere. We have to stop killing our own, so to speak, and come together. If we can’t fix ourselves, there is no way we can fix our state.
We are at the absolute bottom of the food chain in this country, yet we demand respect from everyone. We’re going to have to earn that respect.