Posted: 8:00 a.m. Friday, Aug. 9, 2013
By Will Shelton
Almost every college program has something like this. A rock, a slogan, a saying, a touchpoint. Something to unify the team just before the hit the field, a rallying cry to lock in.
I like Tennessee's for a couple of reasons. The orange "I Will Give My All For Tennessee Today" sign is in the shape of the state (which will soon be appearing on the back of the Vol jerseys). Much like the old logo on the floor at Thompson-Boling Arena (which I miss), it reminds you that this is our state and brings together Vol fans from Bristol to Memphis.
But the wordplay evokes the almighty "we" from the fanbase. Especially in big games when the Neyland Stadium crowd can make a huge difference, when the players give their all for Tennessee, that saying can make us feel like we are doing the same.
It's always an interesting topic, the use of "we" with your favorite sports team. Some will say you had to be a student there or be born there. Others will say unless you played you should never ever use it. But I've always felt, even as a former student and a Knoxville native, anything that involves so much emotional investment allows for the use of "we". More than just paying for the tickets and sitting in the stands, I use "we" with Tennessee everywhere because, flat out, I've got so much emotional investment in the Vols I feel like a part of it, whether I'm in Neyland Stadium or watching at home. It feels like our program, and that's part of what makes it so special.
Some will disagree, and that's fine. I use "we" far less frequently with the Titans or even the Lady Vols, because my personal investment is far lower. But the Vols are my team. Our team. And when they slap that sign and give their all for Tennessee, I believe they will always be surrounded by a fanbase, even in troubling times, ready to respond in kind. And that's part of what makes writing for this site so rewarding: we're all in this together, we're all ready to win again, but either way we're still here, and will continue to be here. Because it's our team.