Geauxing Too Far: Stop Sharing the UT Kid

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This past Saturday, LSU and UT faced off in what was arguably one of the top five non-conference games of the season. During a break to review a catch and possible fumble with 3:43 left in the game, the camera cut to an upset UT fan. Teary-eyed with hands on his head, it was clear he was passionate about his team. Emotions were running high. As the cameraman cut away only to come back at a better angle, college football fans got a better view of the red-faced UT fan. It soon became apparent that he was a child, yet that did not stop the crew from focusing on his face. Nor did it deter social media users from turning the image into cruel memes. Even ESPN tweeted a shot of the child captioned, “Live look at Longhorn fans.”

I’m a lifelong Tiger fan. I’ve done my fair share of heckling and chanted, “Tiger Bait!” more times than I can count. I wanted LSU to crush UT like everyone else. I enjoyed watching Matthew McConaughey curse angrily in his cowboy hat following an LSU touchdown (then again, I enjoy watching him do just about anything alright, alright, alright). But I did not enjoy the footage of this child who looks no older than twelve. His friends saw this. His image has made its way onto social media never to be erased. It will take a long time for him to live this one down. He’s going to school Monday, and his peers (and teachers) will have seen a very raw, vulnerable side of him that he likely never intended for millions to see in this manner. I hope his friends laugh it off and think it’s cool that he went viral, but I’m thinking he won’t be that fortunate.

Keep your head up, UT Kid. Believe me, as an LSU fan, I’ve been there.

Did his emotions get the best of him? Yes. Was his reaction a little over the top? Maybe. But he’s a child. This is what kids do. They’re still learning how to express their emotions, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Hell, I’m still learning how to express my emotions. But is this really a lesson he needs to learn on national television? We don’t need to send the message that vulnerability is wimpy and worthy of ridicule. We shouldn’t be circulating memes at his expense. At best it’s ignorant, and at worst, it’s cyberbullying. Isn’t this the kind of stuff we tell our own children not do do? I have two boys. We talk all the time about feeling our feelings, naming those feelings, that it’s okay to show emotion, and that sometimes those feelings take over. Mocking the UT kid directly conflicts with what we’re teaching our children. We need to do better. We can demonstrate mindfulness and good sportsmanship and still say, “Geaux Tigers!”

Alyson Haggerty
Alyson lives in Metairie with her husband, Patrick, their 7 and 4 year-old boys, and their Morkie, Beignet. After teaching for almost ten years, she left a career in education and is now a full-time nursing student. In her hypothetical free time, Alyson would enjoy flipping furniture, writing, and dancing. She is always looking for a racquetball partner and loves streetcar rides and playing board games with her family. A good cook, she is constantly on a quest to answer the age-old question, “What’s for dinner?” but has thus far been unsuccessful.

4 COMMENTS

  1. I somewhat agree. If he was just a distraught child over his beloved team losing then I’d be appalled over this but he was a distraught child that clearly uttered the words, “are you f’ing kidding me!” For an impressionable child of 11 or 12 he has a pretty colorful, grownup vocabulary.

    • I understand that point. But I did some grown up things that I’m less than proud of, and I’m so glad I didn’t grow up wit social media for that reason. I’m not defending his behavior; I just don’t think it’s a lesson he needs to learn on national TV.

  2. His behavior becoming a viral gif, etc is more of a display of the failure of his parents. His multiple F bombs, notably “Oh my F-ing God” during his meltdown is what made it what it was.

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