Editor’s Note: Throughout the week, TommieMedia will be featuring stories on the upcoming Tommie-Johnnie game. Make sure to check out the Tommie-Johnnie coverage page for daily updates.
I’ve seen the Facebook group and received the messages, but I will not be purchasing a Tommie-Johnnie T-shirt.
Yes, I do welcome rivalries. I have to. I am from a mixed-marriage family. Brett Favre defines my ethnic heritage: a family of Packer-loving Wisconsinites and Viking-centric Minnesotans. And, we have some Tommies and Johnnies in my family. Really, it’s miraculous we all still talk.
I think rivalries are great, especially when you throw football and beer into the mix. But when do rivalries go too far?
Seriously, that’s the best we’ve got?
As Tommies, we have the privilege of continuing a rich, historic rivalry. The tale of O’Shaugnessy is retold to all prospective students touring the school. It’s a great story that fits my beer and football criterion.
The T-shirts for the Tommie-Johnnie game are downright crude and immature. I read the descriptions and thought, “Seriously, that’s the best we could come up with?” I honestly thought we could create something much more clever and classy than attacking our rival’s sexuality again. It is possible to be provocative and intelligent.
How would you react to a bunch of Johnnies walking around our campus wearing similar shirts slurring Tommies? Or what if a guest came over to your house wearing a shirt directly attacking your sexuality? My guess is that neither situation would end well.
Message lasts even after your mother gets ahold of it
I am the oldest of six children and the youngest is four years old. I don’t buy shirts I can’t wear in front of the younger kids. I did purchase one questionable shirt in high school, not one with a sexual innuendo, but one with wordplay based on a strong text message abbreviation. The little kids repeated it and caught on, and it was not a smart decision on my part.
If I did bring the Tommie-Johnnie shirt home, I would never see it again. My mother would destroy it. I still hear the stories about my Nana ripping my uncles’ shirts that came home in college laundry bags. Usually they had to do with Bucky Badger (yes, I’m sure you can imagine the word play here). The shirts didn’t last long, but the foul messages outlive the shirts in these stories.
Johnnies and Bennies roam our neighborhoods
I know plenty of Johnnies and Bennies, and I respect them as people and tolerate them as Division-III football fans. Yes, we have our jokes. But there’s a big difference between saying something versus having it screen-printed, manufactured and sold.
The messages on the shirts can be taken out of context when seen by an outsider, and what kind of an impression is that?
Even though we live in St. Thomas territory, Bennies and Johnnies still roam the neighborhood. Just a warning: it is hard to tell who they are because they are not always sporting derogatory shirts about St. Thomas. You could be offending a future employer, neighbor or friend.
We don’t have to be best friends
One of my favorite commercials is the series of NFL ads showing rival football fans coming together as “Why can’t we be friends?” plays in the background. Now, I’m not saying we’re all going to be best buddies with Bennies and Johnnies, especially when we’re cheering for the Tommies to win. But we can still get along and respect each other.
So, I have decided not to buy a Tommie-Johnnie T-shirt. I do not want to support the stupid, disgusting jokes. I challenge St. Thomas students to be more creative. If someone does come up with something witty and original, I will be one of the first people to buy it.
Theresa Malloy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.