NCAA Football

What Can We Learn From Harvey Updyke?

John David Mercer-US Presswire

It was the climactic point of the ESPN 30 for 30 “Roll Tide/War Eagle.”

Harvey Updyke, a lifelong Alabama Crimson Tide fanatic, called an Alabama radio show and admitted to poisoning the famous Auburn oak trees on Toomer’s corner.

“Roll damn tide.”

Those were the parting words Updyke said before hanging up the phone.

Updyke has pleaded guilty to criminal damage of an agricultural facility and will serve a minimum six months in jail. Updyke is required to pay a $1,000 fine and abide by rules of his five year supervised probation sentence which include a 7 p.m. curfew as well as being banned from Auburn’s campus and attending a college sporting event.

The actual sentence is three years in prison; however, Updyke was credited with having served 104 days thus far.

Honestly, this guy should probably be banned from doing a lot more than just attending college sporting events.

I am a die-hard Texas Longhorn fan and despite high levels of animosity I have when I get that sick feeling in my stomach after I see an Oklahoma Sooners logo, I assure you what Harvey Updyke did is above and beyond anything I would ever even consider doing in the slightest bit.

Sometimes rivalries get the best of us. I have been at fault. But never have I felt compelled to engage in any harmful act of spite and hatred.

There is no excuse, people.

There is nothing in my ‘sports’ world that I love more than seeing Oklahoma fail. It tickles me to ask a fellow Texas fan what time it is just to reply, “and OU still sucks” after they tell me but I would never do anything reckless.

The Harvey Updykes of the world do not belong at sporting events and quite honestly do not deserve to represent the teams they love so dearly. These kind of people are the adults who talk trash to a little kid cheering for the opponent at the game. These kind of people are the “fans” that can’t have a civil debate without raising his or her voice and reverting to curse words when there is a difference of opinion.

Never mind that they are nowhere near objective.

Fans forget far too often that when you put on your favorite hats, shirts and jerseys you are representing the school, the team and the fans.

No, seriously. It is a lot bigger than you.

If you travel to away games and you’re that drunk in the stands cussing and yelling, talking smack to everyone around you or that loud mouth at a sports bar near the opponent’s campus, the identity and reputation of the school you love so dearly is now associated with your behavior.

Fans want to be self-proclaimed “nations” joining one another across the country, bleeding the school colors and sharing the ups and downs of the season with one another and this is why when people like Harvey Updyke do things like Updyke did they immediately become the thorn in the side of that fan base.


Because normal human beings don’t treat sports like a holy war, instead, they act like adults. It is perfectly fine to fall into a pseudo depression after your favorite team loses in the national championship or the NCAA tournament.

I’m that guy.

I find it hard to get out of bed the next day when Texas gets ran off the field by Oklahoma (again) or loses in the national championship to Alabama. I turn off my phone and I want to be left alone for the next 24-48 hours and thanks to Blake Gideon every time I see the Texas Tech logo or hear his name I have nightmares of the 2008 Michael Crabtree catch.

It sucks when your team loses.

But I have never wanted to fist fight someone at a bar. I have never felt the urge to drive to a rival campus and vandalize or destroy historic, sentimental, nostalgic landmarks because of a loss.

It is pathetic.

And don’t comment on this story telling me I’m a moron and I don’t understand being a die-hard fan. If you do, you’re that kind of fan and you need a reality check.

64 year old Harvey Updyke is an example of what happens when people let their sports and their favorite teams consume who they are instead of being a part of who they are.

For the “Harvey Updyke” in every fan base: Grow up. You’re embarrassing.