The idea that a fraternity is exclusive to the privileged, college-educated elite is completely false. Men who join Greek-letter fraternities are what we typically consider fraternity men, but I have a feeling the name of this website can apply to many more than just those who pay Greek-letter dues.
The people who write anti-fraternity articles are likely involved in fraternity. The people who go to church every Sunday are involved in fraternity. The people who protest, the people who work, the people who host block parties, they’re all a part of fraternity. Fraternity is more than dues, service, fundraising, alumni and college; Fraternity is any familial bond forged by those who are not necessarily related by blood, but by a similar world view.
This was made no more apparent than when a fraternity brother and coworker of mine took me to a WWE show. Yes; I went to a WWE show.
Few may know that I was a WWE (then WWF or WCW) fanatic as a child. Okay, maybe not a fanatic, but my cousins loved it and got me invested in the story lines. I loved The Rock, I loved The Rock & Sock Connection (when he teamed up with Mick Foley). The Hardy boys were high-flying stunt artists and Stone Cold was what I imagine Robert E. Lee would be if he swore and wore jean jackets.
Simply put: it was a great time. My cousin and I would pretend a tin cookie tray cover was a chair, bashing it on each others’ heads. . .that explains why I work for a fraternity. My cousin may have cried when Triple H turned on Shawn Michaels at their DX reunion.
History aside, I was very hesitant to go to this show. It had been a while since I watched a wrestling show and the characters all seemed a little. . . lame. There were a few good ones, and a few attractive ones, let’s be honest, but I just didn’t know if I could get into it. Still, the bonds of brotherhood encouraged me to accompany my brother on his journey.
He went all out. We got D-Generation X shirts (from the “Attitude Era”) and marched toward the Pacer’s home turf, only it was now fitted for a WWE match. That’s when I saw it. . . fraternity.
These fans have dedicated a major chunk of their lives to the storylines and characters of the WWE. A promotional video shared that WWE videos had been watched 5 billion times in the past year; that’s more than the NFL, NBA, MLB & NHL. . . WHAT? Walking around the stadium, people start saying “Whoo!” to which other’s reply, “Whoo!” It was to pay respect to Rick Flair, an old-school wrestler with about as much street cred as McCoy in TFM’s west coast rush video.
I looked around and saw men and women decked out in there favorite gear. A whole family showed up as Hulk Hogan look-a-likes. People brought signs, chanted for their favorites and booed their villians. Evil characters were appropriately shunned and the crowd erupted in excitement when Brock Lesner, who had been “suspended indefinitely,” came back and suplexed the crap out of some guy named Seth who acts like a little whiny fool. (we all chanted “Suplex City” while Seth, the whiny guy, tried to make amends with some strongman friends on stage for some reason)
It was everything I wanted and more.
I got to talk with a kid next to me, who we’ll call Ollie, about who he wanted to win, why he wanted them to win, etc. When I first asked him who he wanted to come out victorious in a tag-team match, he said, “The white ones,” to which I thought, “umm.” The he explained that he really just picks whoever looks the strongest. . . Ollie has an eye for muscle, ladies, watch out.
We talked and he began going deep zone. “What would happen if you were in the ring against everyone and you won?” “What if a T-Rex came to fight John Cena?” “Do you play Minecraft? Want to play with me?”
Yessss. He was inviting me to play Mincraft over our shared appreciation for John Cena. A guy behind us began to chant, “Cena Sucks!” and Ollie quickly stood up, looked at the man, and gave him a stern look indicating that such demagoguery would not be tolerated in this temple. We always say fraternity men should stand up for what they believe, and here was a young, WWE fraternity man doing just that!
My point is that fraternity is much more than college fraternity. Fraternity is a way of life, the gathering of people who want to believe in something bigger, moral and familial. The use of ritual and song and chanting have been a part of human bonding for centuries. It is not exclusive to us.
As much as that is a call for every fraternity man and woman to recognize their sameness in the world, it is an equal request to those silly folks who write that fraternities and sororities should be eliminated from college life become adults. You too are in a fraternity. You too are guided by your peers, and take part in ritual, and believe in something bigger than yourself, even if it doesn’t entail a “god.”
Love each other a little more. We’re all in fraternities, sometimes many fraternities at once.