They've been written off as insignificant in a game that has become stronger and faster. Once admired as among the nation's best, they have slowly experienced what is seen by many as an erosion of talent, resources, and facilities. This erosion has led most Americans to view them as a mere shell of their former self...a relic of a long-since-gone era. A relic that can't possibly compete. Certainly not against opponents with bigger reputations and greater levels of talent at their disposal.
The changing landscape over the past 30 years has put Syracuse at a delicate precipice. One that threatens to doom it to an eternal future of mediocrity. It is a difficult future indeed when others seem to have much more ability and talent, with a recent past void of great success, it would be easy to let perception become a reality.
Yet there is a group representing Syracuse and all of Central New York who will stand up and fight that perception with every fiber in their body. These are the individuals who stand up, and will themselves and the community they represent to succeed. They have made the decision to collectively put their heads down and work with sense of a pride that suggests, no matter what the rest of the country thinks, that they are stronger, better, and ultimately, a force to be reckoned with. They are individuals who truly deserve our support and admiration.
The above sentiments could be very well applied to the opinion of many toward our football team...at least to those who have any real opinion at all. Yet, people of Central New York, my sentiments above are not just about the football team...
...they are about us all.
Having lived much of my 40+ years in Central New York, and watching our resources, talent and facilities slowly erode, the general opinion of our area among the outside world is that we are non-competitive...practically irrelevant. For those still paying attention (and there are fewer and fewer that do), we are seen as a once admired place that has been left behind by more attractive locales...well, that and much lighter tax burdens...
But I love Syracuse with every ounce of my being, and feel strongly that there are opportunities for us as a community to showcase our strengths, and in-turn offer the nation a reminder of our relevance. Many of these opportunities sit well outside the world of sports (as they should), but in our University's sports teams, we do have an opportunity to publicly and visibly celebrate something that is inside us all...competitiveness, passion, and excellence. And among our sports teams, football more than any other perfectly reflects the mood and environment that we all live in...it's hard, unforgiving, and one where we aren't expected to succeed.
Because our football team, like our city, is the underdog, I submit that HCSS and his team are deserving of every member of this community's full-throated passion and support on Fall Saturdays...starting this weekend. Get out there and support this team with every fiber in your body not because there's a guarantee that they will win (save that for basketball season). Support this team precisely because there is no guarantee. Support them with every fiber in your body because although defeat is a possibility, when this team and this community come together as one, we can win at anything and against anyone. Support them because football, like life, is hard, and those occasional hard-earned moments of triumph are too amazing and precious to be celebrated quietly on your living room couch.
Be a real part of our triumphs, and celebrate alongside those fans and athletes who, like you, refuse to capitulate to the two-star opinion of our team and town. Get out there Syracuse! Fill the Dome on Saturday and blow the roof off the place! Show the nation that we aren't to be ignored anymore. Do that, and you won't merely represent The Orange ...you'll represent us all!