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By Mary McDermott

The University has been dubbed a “basketball school” for years now. Arguably, I feel that it deserves that title. I won’t go into the details of why because I don’t pretend to know much about basketball, and, frankly, I know that you probably don’t care to read it after hearing it so many times already.

But I do know that I am a fan, and at the very least I am qualified to make comments on other fans that I observe at the games.

I feel that it is my duty as a student of the University to attend the games and support our team to the best of my ability. Usually that only entails wearing my ’Nova Nation T-shirt, showing up, standing up, cheering along with the cheerleaders and putting in my own two cents of comments to my friends standing next to me. I show my enthusiasm quietly, but I still consider myself to be emotionally attached to the team, even if it is not expressed at quite the high volume that others announce their interest in the game.

I wish that I had the guts to scream my head off or start my own cheer, but I don’t. So you may think that the following criticism of those who do is unreasonable or weak.

But my definition of cheering at a sporting event is just that: cheering. It should be supportive, encouraging, positive.

I have no problem with fans cheering. But I do have a problem with excessive jeering.

At the second game I attended this season, I unfortunately chose to stand next to a group that, to put it lightly,  took its interest in the game to a new level that I had not yet seen before. They easily spent just as much, if not more time jeering at the other team, including the coach. Several times they sarcastically requested that the coach put in a certain player, who they mocked mercilessly.

They even went so far as to look up biographical information about the coach, yelling, asking him where his wife was and calling her by name.

Who decided that this was ever okay?

What is the point of going to a basketball game if your sole desire is simply to make fun of people? If that’s the case, sit in Connelly and do it to people walking by. See how people like that. See how the friends that you’re sitting with like that.

The entire ordeal first calls into question our role as fans.  I think that I have already made it clear that I believe in supporting the Wildcats. My point is that pumping up our own players seems much more important than trying to put down the opponent.

I imagine that other schools are just as ruthless with their mocking. In that sense, these players can deal with it. They probably don’t hear our jeers most of the time, and, if anything, it spurs their anger and energy in turn. They could potentially thrive on that energy aroused by our insults.

And, of course, what does our attention to the other team say to our own players? We are there to support the Wildcats, aren’t we? So why aren’t we spending more time praising their successes than pointing out the other team’s failures?

Teams do not attempt to win games by the faults of their opponents. They strive to win games based on their own skill. They focus on their own execution of offense and defense. This is done in relation to the opponent, sure, but they don’t just hope for the other team to mess up. If that were the case, that wouldn’t say much about our basketball team.

But I digress, and I would like to return to an earlier point. The fans that looked up personal information about the opposing coach crossed the line. It’s enough that I have to point out that we are spending too much time focusing on the other team, but now I have to point out that those fans weren’t even talking basketball. Really?

Another question I would like to pose is as follows: What does this kind of cheering and jeering say about us as a University community?

Surely, a fan wearing the team’s colors and emblem is a representative of the team. And I think that it’s important to keep our reputation a positive one.

I love wearing our gear and having people tell me that the University is a great school. I take it as a huge compliment.

But even the smallest negative thing that someone hears about the University has the potential to tarnish our reputation in his or her eyes.

There’s a reason we all choose to go here, and part of it is because we have an awesome reputation. So why not keep it up? It would be no compliment to be known as the school with the rudest fans.

But the most excited, die-hard fans? Let’s strive for that.

My message is simple: Let’s keep it classy, ’Nova.

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