Home-field advantage is something that every team looks forward to. Not only does it mean your own band, field, arena or court, gear, being able to sleep the night before in your own bed, but most importantly your own fans. The "Sixth Man," as they are called in basketball, are those people who will heckle the other team, cheer you on, and motivate you to do your best. At Wake Forest it is a tradition that when the other team runs out on the court, field, or into the arena they are not welcomed but rather met with the "Sixth Man", the "Screaming Demons." These are the loyal fans, both students and community members, who come out to every game to cheer on their team, to make sure that our home court advantage is felt in full force.
Yet in September, when Wake Forest football played Navy, something was a little different. As I sat in the stands watching Navy prepare to run out I was expecting the normal jeering to occur. I witnessed something very different. Navy was not met with booing but rather a standing ovation. The entire crowd at BB&T field was standing up clapping for these young men who were supposed to be our opponents. At that moment these Navy boys were not the team that we were playing against but those young men who put their lives on the line for us on a daily basis.
| Wake Forest's Ben Wooster
As the game began they were once again our opponents. The game continued and the outlook was bleak for Wake Forest and unfortunately a loss was in our future. But as always at the end of the game, the team came across the field and stood across from the band holding their helmets up to thank the fans that came to the game. As the team held their helmets up I expected to hear the Alma Mater of Wake Forest, yet a new tune was what reached my ears. Our band was playing the Navy fight song but the Wake Forest team held their helmets up in respect for those who had just given them a loss. It was obvious to me and those still at BB&T Field that day that these young men not only had an understanding of what was on the line that day but also the greater picture. They had just been beaten by the men that chose to give their future on the front line to defend the freedoms that we enjoy on a daily basis.
We may not have won that day but something else was achieved, a true show of sportsmanship and honor and respect for our country. Many teams may not have held their helmets high in respect at the end of that game; why would they when they just lost. Sportsmanship is more than just kind acts toward the other team when one is winning. It is something that is done no matter what the outcome.