Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Word On Sportsmanship and Being Critical

I shared this story on Twitter the other night from Kentucky Sports Radio about a UK fan and his experience in Bloomington with his dad and brothers.

Here at BS, we rant  about a lot of things and we're certainly passionate and have a lot of distaste for programs like ND football, IU basketball, Duke basketball, etc. As you know, we do not hide that or shy away from saying things that might tweak people -- I dare say that it might be one of the reasons that a lot of you read us.

However, we do actually appreciate and believe in good sportsmanship and respecting other human beings. Taking digs at a program or ripping a coach or calling an on-court action embarrassing is no where near the same as throwing debris at fans of opposing teams or cursing at them or calling them slurs. I'd just like to get that out there because I think the lines get blurred these days and for every time we (or someone like us) has an issue with the behavior of fans/coaches/etc., someone else has to point out a shortcoming of ours or our program's.

Let's be clear -- when other fans act like toolbags and embarrass their university, we're allowed to take issue with it. It doesn't mean that there aren't embarrassing douchebags representing Purdue (remember the one who called us Nazis in September?) -- there absolutely are. And we're on record as calling out our own student section for their unnecessary use of the word "bitch" after the first down chant.

There's always this nonsense out there that unless you're utterly flawless that you cannot take umbrage with something else. Enjoy your rival losing? "Yeah, well, look at our banners!" Find fan behavior awful? "Hey, Purdue fans do obnoxious things, too!" Think Georgia is the worst SEC ten-win team ever? "Durrr! We (SEC) still are winning another national title this  year!"

It seems that the world of sports criticism is flanked by doofus people who feel that unless you're undefeated, #1 in the country and flawless in terms of every having done anything wrong -- ever -- you cannot comment on the world around you. This is silly and kind of naive.

The fact is, every program is flawed and every teams, whether professional or collegiate, has fans who display rotten behavior or cluelessness. So let's just understand that.

Let's also understand this: In no way are we endorsing Kentucky fans, nor are we under any sort of illusion that they're innocent, paragons of morality. But if what is outlined in the above-linked piece is accurate then IU fans should be ashamed.

I know that if there were reports of that happening to that degree on our beloved campus, we would surely be critical and embarrassed. And I also know the experience does not have to be like that. B-dowd and I have talked with opposing fans many times --  in fact, most times we are in an opposing venue, we talk with people who on the surface shouldn't like us. However, if someone walked into Harry's wearing IU gear, aside from the good-natured boo, I don't think many of us would be obnoxious to them. In fact, I think we'd drink a brew together as fans of basketball and look forward to the rivalry. But maybe I'm the one being naive.

When B-dowd and I attended the Sweet 16 in Houston in 2010, we spent some time talking to a couple guys dressed in Duke blue who claimed to be huge fans (from Ohio or something, if I recall correctly). We chatted for a while, got pics with them in their Zubaz pants, and learned that one of the guys was wearing a blue shirt without a logo because he likes Duke and Kentucky. Wow. So while we think they're kind of goobers as fans, we would never hurl epithets at them or call them slur-names. Why would we? What does that get us? And moreover, they weren't insulting us or our school. They might be front-runners but that's about all you can say about them.

I hope that when fans of opposing schools venture onto Purdue's campus that the current students and visiting alums treat them the way they would like to be treated. If they mouth off to you or give you the finger, well, far be it from me to lecture you on keeping your cool. But if they're just there to support their team/school and are relatively respectful? Why not show them class? Isn't that what we want of our children and our team?

Or would we rather our programs turn into "gangstas"?


J_Moore said...

Great post, J. My dad (an IU fan) and I came to the same conclusion the other night after the IU/UK game. Some IU fans said "Oh, that's just the rivalry" and "It happens at other schools, including Purdue". I call bullshit. I may be naive, but I think there is at least SOME sportsmanship in a rivalry, even if the two teams hate each other. Like you said, if a Hoosier ends up at Harry's, they may get the initial boos but I doubt anyone would assault them verbally and throw stuff at them.

Plang said...

Gangstas only get one game on the bench...

B-dowd can back me up on this one, but I recall that during the infamous game in which Knight tossed a chair across the court, at one point Purdue fans were tossing coins onto the floor, and maybe even specifically at IU players. I also remember seeing a MSU fan getting clocked in the head with a well thrown beer bottle during a football game my sophomore year. It happens EVERYWHERE, even at Purdue. But some groups tend to be much worse than others. Typically it is that portion of fans that thinks the only way to enjoy a game is to be drunk during it. There is nothing like liquid courage to get people all riled up. I would say that at this point we have been lucky that some knucklehead hasn’t done anything at a Purdue game to attract national news, and I hope that never happens, but all it takes is one fan being a complete a-hole for things to go south in a hurry.

That all said, I agree with J that I hope the mass majority of Purdue fans can rise about all of that crap.

Adam Potrzebowski said...

I let my sports teams influence my emotions probably more than is healthy, but every one should remember that in the end, it is just a game. There is no reason for much more than booing. Maybe make fun of their candy-striped pants. Or amount of money they pay their athletes. Certainly don't assault anyone. Just ask yourself if you would be comfortable with your actions/words ending up in the Exponent for the entire university to know about.

And this extends onto the web too. I hate when fans of any school just use slurs and names to justify the rivalry. Talk about academics, the usefulness of your degree, athletics or student talent all you want, but if you're only argument is name-calling, give it up.

Scruffy_P said...

I am commenting. I am also a smartass.

zlionsfan said...

When I was at Purdue, probably my first senior year, three or four of us went to see the Iowa-Purdue game. There were a couple of Iowa fans seated a few rows in front of us, a dad and his daughter, probably middle-school age.

I don't remember exactly what brought it on ... I'm sure we might have been making fun of them, but not to the extent that this Kentucky fan describes. Anyway, I think the dad turned and said something. One of the guys responded with something that I won't repeat here, but it was absolutely over the line.

It instantly hushed the sparsely-filled section. I think everyone else had the same reaction as me: wtf did he just say? (Well, sadly, most of the other people probably had a second reaction: who are the jackasses with him?) I was embarrassed that a Purdue fan had said that and embarrassed that it was one of us. (I was not, however, wise enough at that age to immediately apologize to the two and to browbeat the idiot into submission. My brain seems to recall that our guy left shortly afterward and that we did what we could to make it up to the Iowa fans, but you can't undo words, and it's also possible that I remember it that way because it makes the incident easier to recall.)

Fans of Kentucky or Indiana or Iowa or whoever are just like us, except they root for different teams. Maybe they aren't behaving like we would, but they're still people, and we should treat them that way. Adam's right: it's just a game.

We should treat fans of opposing teams the way we would want our friends and relatives to be treated in their stadiums and arenas. Show them respect, even if that's not what we get when we travel. We should lead by example.

I can't remember the last time I was in a bar that was filled with Purdue fans (Indianapolis is an IU city, no matter what they want you to believe), but if I were, I would like to think we wouldn't behave like the people at Nick's did.

After all, what good does it do to look down on another school if we behave just like they do ... or worse?

Purdue Matt said...

That is awful behavior by IU folks. Don't want to be friendly and welcoming? Fine, at least be civil and treat them like human beings. Personally, I like to be friendly and talk to fans of other schools to get their perspective on things.

T-Mill said...

I regularly visit Harry's after games during football season, and it is not unusual for the opposition to walk in with full regalia. no one bats an eye, and that's at Harry's.

WORLD NEWS said...

thats not a good behavi0ur by iu folks.thats a so sad we should behave friendly to fans of other clubs.thanks for sharing us
Live Football Stream

WORLD NEWS said...

thats not a good behavi0ur by iu folks.thats a so sad we should behave friendly to fans of other clubs.thanks for sharing us
Live Football Stream