Sep 022010
Authors: Matt L. Stephens

I guess I never understood it when people said that football was just a game.

Football is never just a game. Neither is baseball, basketball, soccer or any sport for that matter.

At the peewee level it’s about teaching kids the importance of teamwork and having fun. In high school and college it’s about representing your town, playing for pride and proving the name across the chest is what’s most important. And in the pros, let’s face it; too often it’s about the paycheck.

It’s never just a game, and you will see that demonstrated in the Rocky Mountain Showdown down in Denver on Saturday.

Colorado State’s victory on the gridiron at CU-Boulder in 2009 sparked a chain of wins over the Buffaloes that lasted the entire academic year as the Rams won every match up in NCAA sanctioned sports against the cocky hippies down south.

Now the academic year reads 2010-2011 and CSU, yet again, has a chance to continue its streak against CU. It started with the Rams’ volleyball team sweeping the Buffs on Tuesday and will carry on Saturday as long as this community comes together.

And I realize I’ve been beating that same drum in every column this year, but I only do it because it’s true.

Maybe it’s because I love small towns; maybe it’s because I was raised near the South; or maybe it’s because I have a man-crush on the character of Abed from the NBC sitcom Community, but that sense of family, togetherness — of community — is important to me.

The human race hasn’t survived thousands of years by isolating itself. We survive in numbers — it’s just natural.

I didn’t wear a football jersey in high school, but I wore baseball uniform for two years. I witnessed first hand what 20 players with mediocre talent could do when they came together as one. They could win 19 games in a row including victories over nationally ranked teams.
Because we had each other’s backs, we were unstoppable.

At the same time, we made the mistake of doubting ourselves for one second, and it sent the last 10 games of the season into a deadly tailspin.

Tuesday, Rams’ senior linebacker Ricky Brewer embraced that community spirit at the CSU-CU volleyball match, taking the microphone and speaking to the crowd after the second set.

Brewer told everyone that this season is all about the green and gold, it doesn’t matter what the sport, we have to be proud to be Rams. We all have to come together as one in order for all of CSU athletics to have successful seasons.

I want to be a part of that.

Since both of my parents graduated from Oklahoma State, naturally, I was raised a Cowboys fan. That being said, I subjected myself to cheering for what was considered the “other” Sooner State university — much like CSU is here in Colorado.

Despite hearing constant mockery growing up when Oklahoma would win the Bedlam game almost every year, deep down I enjoyed it and came to embrace being the underdog.

Whether we like it or not, for the time being, outsiders see Fort Collins as the home of Colorado’s other university. We can’t let that bother us.

Just like an insulting nickname, we have to own it and play it to our advantage.

Even with the way CSU embarrassed CU in Boulder last year, the Rams still can’t get any respect from Buffs fans. It’s time to show them that things are changing in Colorado and that they better get used to it.

In my experience, nothing is more important than family.

There’s nothing that tear down the house of a family that believes in itself.

I see the CSU community as my kin, but if you don’t see me the same way, then this house of ours can crumble.

So I ask you today, will you join my family?
Sports Editor Matt L. Stephens can be reached at

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