By Sarah Earhart aka swampstyle

Part of growing up in Louisiana is the expectation of bleeding purple and gold. Anyone who has ever come into Louisiana realizes that the state is as much a part of the “Tiger Belt” as it is the “Bible Belt”. While it is a forgivable sin for people in North LA to be Cowboys fans rather than Saints fans, there is NO forgiveness for those who are fans of ANY team other than the LSU Tigers. That being said, while I was born in Louisiana, all earlier generations of my family were born, bred, and raised in Arkansas, with many of them still residing there. Because of this, I was raised to say, “WOO PIG SOOIE!!!!!!” rather than “Geaux Tigers”. This caused quite a bit of frustration in my early years, before I learned to embrace the difference between me and my neighbors.

For the most part, I have no beef with the Tigers. My closet has quite a bit of purple and gold in it and I will root for the “Mighty Tigers” with the best of them as long as they are not playing the Razorbacks. One of my favorite places to be during football season is Baton Rouge. If you have never experienced the pull of “Death Valley”, I highly recommend it. Even being a Razorback Girl, I can whole-heartedly say, there is no place like it. Those who are not from Louisiana might find it odd that you can walk up to any tailgating group and be offered a beer, Louisiana cuisine, and then be asked your name, but until game time—the tailgaters have manners. The problem is once you enter into the stadium, everything changes!

As many of you know, Thanksgiving weekend every year, really puts this rivalry to the test, when the Arkansas Razorbacks and the LSU Tigers meet for the “Battle of the Golden Boot”. Luckily for me, unless I am at the game in Baton Rouge, I am normally in Arkansas for Thanksgiving when this meeting takes place. I have no fear of damage to my vehicle that is donned with Razorback stickers. I have no fear of people trying to pick fights with me as I proudly sport my razorback jersey. I am allowed to be loud and proud as I cheer on my hogs.

For those years that I am in Louisiana for the game, things aren’t quite so peaceful. For the past two meetings in Baton Rouge, I have been fortunate enough to be sitting on the two-yard line about twelve rows up to watch the game. As proud as I am of my team, and as much as I support them, due to the harassment and danger to fans of opposing teams that deep in LSU territory, I must wear LSU gear over my razorback shirt. I have seen food and drinks thrown at opposing teams fans. I have seen porta-potties tipped over with opposing fans in them. Game time creates a different kind of tiger fan—one that I am unwilling to buck! I quietly sit in my seat, cheer alongside the band, and get SUPER happy on the inside when the Razorbacks score…lucky for me my companions at these games suffer through the Arkansas fight song being played in their ear from my cell phone when the Hogs score. It is the one thing that I can do to show my pride that no one around me will notice in the roar of that stadium.

On the years when Arkansas pulls off a victory, you can hear a pin drop in a stadium that has registered on the Richter scale on a Friday night. The whole town mourns. The bars are full, but quiet. The fans that were previously jolly and sharing become silent. It is really an eerie feeling in that stadium when the Tigers suffer a loss. I am able to wander to The Chimes and eat my duck and sausage gumbo and know that barely three words will be spoken by anyone around. Fortunately I manage to keep my Razorback fandom undercover until we arrive home and I fear no retribution.

On years that the Tigers win, the stadium is deafening. You cannot hear anything from the person beside you. That volume level continues from the stadium, to the parking lots, to the bars, to the restaurants, and continues well into the next day. The whole town revels like it is Mardi Gras season! Those Tiger fans hold on to the victory and will rub it in the face of any Razorback fan they come across until the next year.

As this game approaches this year, I meet it with sadness. Due to family illness, I will be in Arkansas this year, rather than Baton Rouge—where I have been fortunate enough to be the last two meetings between these teams in Death Valley. While it won’t be 6 AM mimosas and donuts in front of the law center, I will enjoy getting to be just your everyday ordinary Razorback fan during the game this year. There will be no LSU gear in my suitcase. No purple and gold to hide my cardinal and white! I will not have to be an undercover Louisiana Razorback this year! I will get to be loud. I will get to be proud. I will get to call the hogs while cheering on my team! While the prospect of a victory looks dim against the #1 ranked team in the nation, I will keep my head held high, and will proudly support my Hogs no matter what the outcome of this game. I am glad that I have learned to handle the difficulties of being a Louisiana Razorback.