A deep-rooted hatred exists between ASU and the University of Arizona. After I attended the Territorial Cup basketball game I had an idea. What if I was a U of A fan for a day? What if I just walked around the ASU campus and experienced what it feels like to be a Wildcat instead of a Sun Devil for one day? I didn’t look at it as putting myself in someone else’s shoes as much as I saw it as a social experiment. How much do ASU fans really care about the rivalry? How many people would be chivalrous and how many vulgarities would be thrown my way?
I knew it was going to be a long day when I stepped on the elevators in my dorm and one girl is standing there, sees my shirt, and says, “Well, this is awkward. I’m not talking to you.” I guess I wasn’t expecting anything different, but it was early in the morning and it caught me off guard. I was ostracized because of the shirt I was wearing, and it felt weird and unnecessary.
I got off the elevators and took the two-minute walk from Taylor Place to the Cronkite School for my 10:30 a.m. class. A lot of people were heading to and from class so it was a pretty crowded walk. In that two minute time frame I got two middle fingers, two verbal, “Eff yous,” and one, “Eff U of A.” I was prepared for and therefore unfazed by any obscenities.
In my small journalism class of about twenty people, no one made a sound or questioned me. After class, I sat in the First Amendment Forum, which is the hub of activity in the Cronkite School, for roughly half an hour. My only interaction was when a girl came up to me and asked for directions. After sitting down for about 20 minutes, I realized that I had a bubble of about ten feet in each direction of me. No one would sit even remotely close to me.
I decided to drive out to the Tempe campus and grab some lunch at the Memorial Union. “You’re going to die, I’m not expecting you to come back,” said a friend of mine who knew about my experiment. I’m not going to lie, I was pretty worried myself, but I must say, I’m very proud of you, Tempe. I got about as many curse words and U of A hatred thrown my way as I did on the Downtown campus but not too much more, and not nearly as much as I was expecting. Although I’ll admit I was somewhat scared for my life, I just got more weird looks than anything else. The woman behind the counter at Qdoba even took my lunch order. I was actually not sure that was going to occur. Again, I had at least 10-feet of space around where I ate my lunch. I ate at one of the longer shared tables next to the Qdoba and some people came to sit down near me, saw my shirt, and actually picked up their things and left.
I headed back downtown, happy to be alive and happy that my day was almost over. I just wanted to be in a few public spaces throughout the day. I decided to sit in the University Center on the downtown campus. I sat for a full half hour with no reaction at all. My day was finally over.
I came to the conclusion that everybody I came across was one of four things. They were one of the very few people who yelled something at me, still hated me but were too shy or nice of a person to say anything at all, too busy just getting around and going about their own days, or honestly just didn’t care. Most everyone was the third option.
I made a point to get myself noticed and everyone else seemed just too busy or enthralled with something else to care. Maybe that’s the bigger lesson here. If everyone just slowed down their pace a little bit, stopped looking at their phones or computers and maybe engaged others in conversation, it might be easier to people to appreciate, or in this case hate, what and who is around them.
If you have any suggestions as to what you would like to see me write about or cover this semester, have a comment about a recent post, or simply want to talk sports, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @npkrueger