I have watched a lot of Iowa versus Iowa State football games. I have even been lucky enough to attend quite a few since attending the “school out east.”
Depending on the year, I can either be really excited, nervous or nonchalant about the game. I am not going to lie and say I am a fan of the team from Ames. To put it another way, it isn’t always the team itself that bothers me but those who follow it who rub me the wrong way.
This past preseason, my vitriol moved more toward the leader of the football team, who took a shot at my beloved university. I was not old enough to remember when ANF or America Needs Farmers first showed up on Hawkeye helmets. I know the history of phrase and the good intentions that sought by adding it to a national brand.
I, myself, do not have very strong ties to farming. My granddad on my mom’s side farmed all of his life, and I always enjoyed preparing the sweet corn in the fall, but that is about the extent of me being a farmer. I much prefer “city” life, if that is what you want to call living in a town of about 1,800.
Even with my lack of farming background, you can ask a co-worker or two of mine how a felt when the head Cyclone football coach took a shot at the sentiment and declared AHF or Actually Helping Farmers as a new slogan for the historically agriculture-heavy Iowa State University. I was enraged.
I am all for going back and forth about the state universities. Iowa is obviously known for its medical school, business school and writer’s workshop. ISU has a strong hold in engineering and agricultural related fields. None of that is new to the state.
What really got under my skin was a leader of the football program openly diminishing the efforts of ANF. The sticker was meant to bring attention to the crisis in OUR state to a national level, or to areas of the country that still don’t know the difference between Iowa, Ohio and Idaho. It wasn’t a shot at anyone, but a tool to show people were struggling during the farming crisis in the 80s.
The sticker disappeared for quite a few years before resurfacing under the current Hawkeye head coach to once again bring national attention to the work farmers do in our state for our country and the world. I was more than disappointed to see and hear that we, as a state, couldn’t at least rally around that and instead made it a part of the bitter rivalry between the two schools.
The game on Saturday definitely made me nervous and had my heart rate shooting through the roof. I am happy to see a more quality product on the field from Iowa State and hope they churn out a better season than years past.
As for Iowa, we have a few areas to work on, but overall, I thought there was growth from the first game. I get to see the team in action on Saturday at Kinnick and feel a lot better going into game three 2-0.
Mostly, I hope everyone can see that no matter which school you cheer on, bringing attention to the work done by farmers and those in the agricultural field to a national level will help the entire state. No negative light needs to be cast on those efforts by either side.
Contact Jamee A. Pierson