Sportsmanship? Alabama-Auburn?

Alabama vs. Auburn in anything is intense competition. Although it is natural for the athletes of in-state universities to have a spirited rivalry, actions on the field too often are not mirrored in the stands.

During halftime of Alabama's basketball victory over Auburn Saturday in Coleman Coliseum, one of the great men of higher education in this state was on the floor for the presentation of the trophy that is dedicated to his name. The trophy, which is maintained by the circles of Omicron Delta Kappa at The University of Alabama and Auburn University is dedicated to sportsmanship between the two universities.

Incredibly, during an otherwise gracious presentation, Alabama fans found an occasion to boo.

At a sportsmanship presentation!

All it took was the mention of Auburn to bring out the worst in Crimson Tide fans.

The trophy exchange was begun in 1948. In 1978 it was dedicated to Dean James K. Foy, who served as was serving as assistant dean of students at Alabama before become dean of student affairs at Auburn. He served as faculty secretary, the key campus faculty offer in ODK, at both universities.

The trophy is awarded at halftime of the Alabama-Auburn basketball game at the winner's home court.

For many years this was a low-key affair, the only football representation perhaps the team captains. In recent years it has escalated.

Last Saturday's presentation came close to the dignified event of the Foy Trophy presentation from the past. Obviously the booing marred it.

And so did the unnecessary "tradition," which just started a few years ago, of forcing the student government association president of the university whose football team lost the previous fall to participate in the school fight song of the winner. (Auburn SGA President Jacob Watkins was a good sport.)

Alabama Coach Nick Saban accepted the trophy on behalf of The University and had complimentary remarks for his coaches, his players, and the entire "team," which he said included the Bama fan base, and also complimented the competitiveness of the opponent, although that was pretty much forgotten when he made the error of referring to Auburn University as the University of Auburn. That is a mistake of no consequence compared to his overall message.

The booing and the fight song notwithstanding, congratulations to University Professor Glenn Richey, who is ODK faculty secretary, on a huge step towards returning the ceremony to a recognition of sportsmanship.

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