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Junior Jacob Echoff, leader of the spirit group Augustinian Army, has
created a petition on change.org asking the Athletic Department to
allow signs, rollouts and cutouts during Pavilion basketball games. So
far, it has collected over 870 virtual signatures from fans, students
and alumni.
Despite the popular support, it is not in the Athletic Department’s
best interests to honor the petition. Declining the request is the
easiest way to uphold the values of both the University and the
Athletic Department.
In essence, the petition and the Athletic Department seek the same
goal–spirited, energetic student support. But what the petition fails
to establish, and what the Athletic Department may question, is how
allowing signs into the Pavilion will result in a better student
section.
Villanova first banned signs in a game against St. Joseph’s in 2004,
when Villanova students brought a rollout reading, “Congratulations
Jameer Nelson, All-American Dick Sucker.” It was not the first time
Villanova students had raised inappropriate signs.
At a Georgetown game in 1983, Villanova students held up banners
saying, “Patrick Ewing can’t read” and “Ewing Is An Ape.”
In the past, signs have revealed the homophobia and racism of the
student section.
I’d like to think that the University community has since changed, but
even this year I’ve heard similar slurs being shouted at players on
the court.
The petition tries to solve this problem by offering several methods
of submitting signs for University approval.
While this is a step in the right direction, it is far from foolproof.
Students could write on one side of a sign, have it approved, and
simply bring markers to write on the other side once it’s brought into
the stadium.
At best, these signs can offer positive support for Villanova. At
worst, they can spread incredibly offensive messages that reflect
badly both on the student section and the University community as a
whole.
Furthermore, it is frustrating for spectators to stare at the back of
a sign instead of being able to watch the game. While the petition
does not elaborate on when signs would be allowed, sophomore Ryan
Saccoman, a vocal supporter of the petition, wrote in an article for
VUHoops.com that they would only be allowed during timeouts,
commercial breaks, and foul shots.
This arrangement raises the question of the ultimate point of the
signs. During timeouts and commercial breaks, there is no television
coverage.
The players on the court are focused on talking with their coaches.
The only people reading the signs are the other spectators in the gym.
During foul shots, the purpose of the signs is to distract the opposing team.
I understand screaming and waving your arms is common practice at
college basketball games, but it doesn’t seem to quite demonstrate the
integrity, sportsmanship and community that the Athletics Department
has named as three of its core values.
To some extent, yelling and waving to distract the other team is
fairly harmless and unstoppable behavior. But by allowing signs into
the Pavilion that solely try to distract the other team, the Athletics
Department would be explicitly encouraging behavior that goes against
its mission statement.
If nothing else, the opposing team deserves a base level of respect
that signs and rollouts could easily destroy. Disrespectful and
offensive rollouts and signs are not exactly unprecedented in the
student section.
Finally, students don’t need signs to be supportive and creative.
As the petition itself states, the band has started to lead the
student section in singing during foul shots.
This display of unity and ingenuity would in fact be harder to achieve
if students each brought their own signs in.
I’m sure the supporters of the petition have the best of intentions,
but the possibility for abuse is simply too high for the Athletics
Department to seriously consider honoring their request. We already
have a vocal, committed student section. The large risk of allowing
signs is not worth the small reward.

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