I’ve been attending West Virginia University football games for decades. I’m a season ticket holder, so our seats are always in the same place. We’re usually surrounded by like-minded seat mates, friends we have gained over the years in our love and passion for Mountaineer football.
One Saturday game was different.
Several “regulars” sold their tickets to other folks. We had new seat mates behind us. As the game started, we were standing and cheering (like we always do). The new person behind me tapped me on the shoulder and asked me if I could sit down so he could see the game. I explained “this is what we do” at WVU games and if I sit down, I couldn’t see because the people in front of me are standing as well.
Me being me, I obliged (but only for a certain amount of time) and sat. And I got mad. Why am I letting this total stranger kill my spirit and passion for my team, my tradition, my love? I didn’t keep my mouth shut for long. I kept turning around and telling him why we do what we do…what it means to us as lifelong fans and lovers of all things West Virginia. And I resumed my standing and cheering. At some point, he moved to a different seat … no longer behind me. I was relieved.
As the game continued, our team began to rally and finally score some points. The crowd was totally in the game now. You could feel the energy and excitement in the stadium. I turned around and noticed … the man was now standing and cheering. I learned later that evening that this was his first ever WVU game. He was a newbie.
Did my words change him? Did the crowd change him? Did he just decide to stand up to see the game? Maybe all three things combined?
Just like college football and their fans, credit unions and their members are passionate about their cause. Those of us who are die-hard college football fans just don’t get it when a newbie doesn’t see what we see and feel what we feel. This is equally true for credit union advocates. Why can’t some people see the greatness of credit unions? Do we need to change the playing field or how we call the plays?
Things I relearned that day that apply to college football and credit unions:
- Not everyone has the same history, experiences, or expectations, and it’s difficult to see that on the surface. They might be wearing the team shirt, but they might not yet know what that means.
- Newbies need education and time to absorb. Take the time to teach them the nuances, why you do what you do and what it means to you and your community.
- Keep standing when they tell you to sit down. Never let anyone mess with your passion. Each of us has the power to make a difference in someone else’s life.
Your passion, your commitment, your enthusiasm, and your continuous education as a credit union fan will light the way for generations to come. Stand up. Cheer. And never stop.
To learn more about the couch reference, google “WVU couch burning”.