Monday, February 18, 2008

When Fans Cross the Line and Universities Are Weenies About It

On January 24 the University of Oregon men’s basketball team hosted UCLA. One of the UCLA players, freshman Kevin Love, is from Oregon, but chose UCLA, even though his father was a star player at Oregon. The student section, called the Pit Crew, were ready to let Kevin Love know how much they hated him, apparently for exercising his right not to attend the University of Oregon.

They started in on Kevin Love (and his mother and father, who were attending the game) from the warm ups and didn’t let up until the game was over and the court was empty. So what’s the big deal? Lots of college teams encourage the student sections to be loud and rowdy, wear crazy clothes, paint your face, wave towels behind the basket and yell things on foul shots, you know, the home court advantage.

The Pit Crew apparently outdid themselves. If their behavior had happened on the street outside the basketball arena, they probably would have been arrested for harassment, inciting violence, and spewing hate speech. They called Kevin Love a “pussy.” They called him a “bitch.” They called him a “faggot.” Repeatedly. They had long chants about his “sexual orientation” that were too vulgar to write in my blog. They held up signs with more insults and name-calling. They harassed his mother and father so much that they needed extra security to escort them out after the game.

It was disgraceful and disgusting. It was so far over the line that it came back around and went over it again. It was completely inexcusable behavior…and no one in any position of authority at the University of Oregon did anything to stop it. When asked after the game, one official cited free speech concerns as an excuse for the school’s complete failure of responsibility. Free speech. What a cheapening of the concept. This was not free speech. It was hate speech.

The Oregon AD did finally apologize to UCLA, Kevin Love and his family. He also spoke to fans before the next game about their behavior. Too little, too late, in my opinion, but it is a start.

Oregon isn’t the only school where this kind of bigotry masquerades as school spirit and team support during athletic competitions. It is high time that the NCAA, athletic conferences and individual schools step up, as they say, to make sure that this kind of insanity stops. Stop hiding behind “free speech.” Attending a basketball game is a privilege, not a right. Other fans (and their children) and all the players have rights too: The right to enjoy a game, be loud, have fun …without feeling like they need to shower immediately after leaving the game to wash the filth off.

By the way, UCLA won and Kevin Love had a double double. The victory must have been sweet.


calugg said...

Not only the University of Oregon, but where were the refs?

As someone who used to run a university Basketball pep-band in the 1980s, any "overthetop" behavior that "detracted from the game" could draw a technical foul. Consequently, band members were warned--if we got hit with a technical, they could kiss their position in the band and their paycheck good-bye.

For the boorish Oregon fans--the refs should have hit them with a technical, then had security boot them from the game if need be.

Where were the refs???

Pat Griffin said...

Good point. I completely agree. I should have taken them to task too. Thanks for reminding me of this.

Anonymous said...

Again this shit is ridiculous, grow up it's college basketball. It's a huge rivalry, UCLA is top of the country, Oregon is sour over losing top recruit and looking to upset UCLA. It's called college basketball and it's called being a fan. Get in your opponents head with the hopes of making his experience there as miserable as possible. And damn right they should make up as crazy and hurtful insults as possible. Call him gay, call him a pussy or a bitch. There's nothing worse for a guy than to be considered a girl or gay.

Pat Griffin said...

Anonymous, you have some seriously screwed up priorities. Do you realize what a jerk you sound like? Apparently so because you are hiding behind "anonymous."

I did not say basketball fans should not be wild and crazy in support of their teams. I just don't think hate speech and vulgarity has a place in a basketball arena. It's not a back alley drunken brawl.

Also, I can think of many things worse than being considered a girl or gay. One is being considered a bigoted dumbo who thinks being called a girl or gay is an insult.

Anonymous said...

With a response like that it's so obvious you aren't a guy and have no idea what being a guy is like. Try thinking about both sides of the issue, thankfully everyone doesn't think like you(although you seem to believe it). Secondly, you don't have any content in your post. You can think of worse things and you didn't mean this. What did you mean and if you have better ideas as to what the fans could call Kevin Love, why not share them rather than criticizing a group of fans for their 'lack of creativity in name calling' as you seem to consider it. And did you seriously call me a bigoted dumbo? Let's bring this conversation up to an adult level again.

fanofthegame said...

Anonymous. Fans can say a multitude of things to players that are not racist, sexist, homophobic, or any other kind of slur. They can say things like "you suck" "you can't shoot" "You'll never make a basket" "i dare you to try a 3-pointer". Or how about "doesn't matter how many shots you make, your team is terrible. we are better" none of these are attacking a player's race, gender, or sexual orientation. they are not personal attacks. If the best you can come up with is calling someone a "faggot"... well... i say that is pretty weak.

Anonymous said...

I'm gonna take a guess that you've never been to a basketball game in your life. And none of those things are very valid insults. Kevin Love can obviously shoot, he obviously doesn't suck. I mean he is the one playing college basketball and you'd be the one watching? UCLA in this case is a better team than Oregon so try again there. Faggot, pussy or bitch are quick, one word, hurtful insults and are much easier to say and hear than you're sentences.

fanofthegame said...

anonymous. not only have i played ball, i have watched a lot of ball. Fans try to get in their opponents heads, they try to mess up their timing. by your logic, fans should only yell racist, sexist, and homophobic epithets at opposing players. they should wave their hands or anything when they stand behind the basket for free throws. they should not yell at the opposing bench during time outs. they should only yell "faggot". and by your logic - kevin love obviously isn't a faggot so why yell that at him? how is that hurtful to him? if people yelled those kinds of insults at me when i was playing, i'd laugh at them. being gay has nothing to do with the ability to shoot.

i guess i just don't understand your logic or your pretense that saying someone is a faggot, a nigger, a whore is in anyway appropriate.

Pat Griffin said...

Anonymous, do you seriously not get the irony of your believing that it's perfectly ok for you to scream all kinds of offensive racist, sexist and homophobic names at basketball players yet you are upset that I implied that you are a bigoted dumbo?

I admit my frustration with attitudes like yours got the better of me, but don't even begin to claim that you were ever anywhere near an adult level here.