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When the 12th man leaves before the game is done...
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“Support your team, even when it loses. A true fan sticks with their team through good times and bad. It’s a sad sight to see the bleachers empty at a stadium 10 minutes before a game is over just because the home team is losing. Stick around until the end and root your team off the field.”
--By Sgt. Peggy Runyon, The Daily Athenaeum

Thoughts like these surfaced at the close of the Great Bend vs Hays football game Oct. 12.  It was cool, and there was a fine mist falling on the crowd, but honestly, it wasn’t miserable as we sat in the stands in our jackets, under our blankets and umbrellas.  
Our team tried, but couldn’t seem to get an edge or the necessary spark to take the game back, or to even put less distance between winning and losing, but they didn’t quit.  At least not the 11 men on the field.  Unfortunately, the team’s 12th man did, and when that happens, how can anyone ever expect a team to rally?
Some will say they left because they were cold, but I’ll bet dollars to donuts that if our guys were winning, no one would have left.  I know there are others who stood in the stands until the bitter end who agree with me wholeheartedly.  
The history of the 12th man goes all the way back to 1903, following the game between State University of Iowa and the University of Illinois. In an article by writer E.A. McGowan, “The Twelfth Player”, he wrote: “The 11 men had done their best; but the 12th man on the team (the loyal spirited Iowa rooter) had won the game for old S.U.I.”
In the 1980s, the Seattle SeaHawks retired the number 12 in honor of the 12th man, and several other major league fan bases have considered themselves 12th men too.   Its even become the protected trademark of the Texas A&M Aggies — but Seattle won’t give it up.
Most of my friends wouldn’t consider me a true football fan. I only know the basic rules, and have a hard time remembering what number goes with what player.  But, I know a team can turn things around in the fourth quarter, and the game isn’t over until it’s over.  
I’m also a football mom to a WKFL Panther with high hopes of someday playing with the big boys.  I didn’t sign my son up for the sport so I could be entertained.  I signed him up so he could learn how to be a man.  It’s not the only way — before I get inundated with emails — but its a good way for many boys to learn teamwork, the importance of brotherhood, strategy, building strength and speed, and how to take and give a tackle with the best of them and get right back up and keep on playing.  It teaches them to keep on trying each week.  And sometimes, its enough.  And sometimes, it isn’t.  Just like in life.  
And just like life, I’m on his team, even while I’m in the stands.  Fans are an integral part of the team, and as soon as both the players and the fans learn that, the better.
I’d like to echo the advice of writer Andrew Kulak, in his article “Fans should always stand in support” from the Oct. 9 Collegiate Times.
“In short, this is what I suggest: if you have a ticket, come to the game. If you come to the game, stay for the game. And if you stay for the game, be into the game. Be loud on defense, be obnoxious — within the limits of good sportsmanship, of course — shake your keys, push up your friends, do the Hokie Pokie and, for the love of all that is good and holy, never sit down!”
When the away team makes more noise than the home team, the 12th man isn’t doing his job.  When the stands begin to empty before the end of the fourthquarter, the 12th man isn’t doing his job.  
How can we possibly expect the other 11 men on the field to do their jobs without the help of the 12th man?