For hundreds of years, humans have referred to supporters of sports teams, and any other groups or individual, as “fans” in order to shorten the word “fanatical.”
Most fans, however, don’t exactly cross a line, but the fanaticals do seem to have a tendency to, let’s say, go the extra mile.
As was the case with this Alabama fan, who was so upset with the Crimson Tide basketball team that he took some extreme measures.
Fans of the University of Alabama tend to be amongst the most passionate fan bases in sports.
Generally, though, their support is almost always exclusive to their legendary football team and the dynasty head football coach Nick Saban has built.
But that hasn’t been the case this year, thanks to the great season the Alabama basketball team has put together with a 16-5 overall record and an SEC-leading 11-1 record in conference play.
With the Crimson Tide basketball team seemingly on the verge of a possible SEC championship and a great run in the NCAA Tournament, Alabama fans are all-in on basketball once again.
And that’s why after watching his team lose to Missouri, 68-65, Alabama fan Mike Wendel felt he needed to do something to get his team’s attention to help them avoid missing the golden opportunity they have before them this season.
Wendel decided that his best course of action was to purchase three billboards across Tuscaloosa that said phrases like “rebound,” “protect the paint,” and “rebounding = Final Four.”
Lol. One @AlabamaMBB fan means business! Mr. Michael Wendel was so upset with the Tide's loss to Missouri, he purchased these billboards in Tuscaloosa.
His moto “If you can’t play in the paint, you can’t play with NOVA.”@nate_oats @WBRCnews #rolltide pic.twitter.com/mubBli5iwD
— ChristinaWBRC (@ChristinaWBRC) February 9, 2021
“Me and my wife got frustrated,” Wendel said. “They’re spending more time with their heinies walking away from the basket than they have their chests to the basket after missing the 3-point shot so me and my wife got frustrated and we bought the billboards.”
According to Wendel, the billboards aren’t meant to be negative toward the Alabama basketball team, but rather to encourage them.
“They play a really cool version of basketball, they’re swapping threes from the middle of nowhere and it’s exciting, I believe they can win and I’m a Villanova grad,” Wendel said.
As incredible of a move as buying billboards around an entire city to get your team’s attention is, it can be a risk too.
You never know how athletes, especially those still in college and mostly under the age of 21 or so, will take the message.
Fortunately, Wendel’s move does have the support of one person inside the Alabama program – head coach Nate Oats.
“Shoot, I love the fact that the fans in Tuscaloosa are into basketball and they care enough to pay for billboards,” Oats told reporters recently.
It’s hard to blame Oats for being excited just to see fans caring about Alabama basketball.
When you’re at a school that’s been as dominant in a single sport as Alabama has been with football, it’s hard to get fans engaged in other sports that aren’t as successful.
Regardless, it appears Oats and his team are succeeding in giving Alabama fans a reason to be fanatical about a sport other than football.
With fans willing to spend thousands of dollars on billboards just to encourage their team, and the product Alabama has put on the floor recently, the Crimson Tide may just be building a basketball program that can compete year-in and year-out.
Now, if only the team can get the message and start crashing the boards, all the money spent on those billboards might just be worth it.
Sports with Balls will keep you up-to-date on any developments to this ongoing story.