FanDuel - WFBC

February 28, 2008

Over the Top: An article on some very disturbing incidents that have occurred at some recent college basketball games. When does it go too far?

posted by gfinsf to basketball at 04:34 AM - 29 comments

Helluva thing is, from what I've seen, high school fans are headed down the same road to the same sorry end. My gut tells me that it's a process of deliberate imitation. Fan behavior is where the fan gets to "play": they'll never be on the court, but when part of the reporting and part of the attention is on fan antics, there's an incentive for a certain mindset to take part in these organized actings-out.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 07:27 AM on February 28

Attention isn't always a good thing, in spite of what's been happening to Britney the past few months (that's a different subject altogether). It's only a game, people. Deal with it and move on with life.

posted by NerfballPro at 09:51 AM on February 28

"The NCAA and league commissioners and athletic directors need to put a stop to it," Love says. "I'm all for creative, loud and funny fans. But don't target one guy, don't threaten him on the phone, don't tell him you're going to break his legs or get him after the game. And don't force the parents to get security guards. Think about it: You're at a university, and you have to get security to go in and watch a kid play?" It's a gradual escalation in fan behavior that many don't want to acknowledge, mainly due to some of the "creative" and "funny" escapades of students in certain schools, such as Duke, for example. It had to be just a matter of time, however, until it turned into hooliganism in more and more places. Schools need to be held accountable, and security needs to be beefed up to include more than just kids in bright-colored shirts. A few more high-profile incidents and the NCAA will get off their asses.

posted by dyams at 09:53 AM on February 28

To be expected in an apolitical country like ours. Such nativist behavior has long been encouraged, whether promoting a war or getting hammered in a parking lot and screeching like a rabid ape in the stands. Americans love to shout, bump chests, scream inanities, and generally act stupidly and blindly in support of whatever tribe they happen to identify with. And guess what? It's only gonna get worse. Go to a Little League game this summer and see where it starts.

posted by afl-aba at 10:12 AM on February 28

To be expected in an apolitical country like ours. Such nativist behavior has long been encouraged Can you explain what that means? I don't follow.

posted by yerfatma at 10:41 AM on February 28

Since the vast majority of Americans are not directly engaged with the day to day politics of the country -- something that is reserved for elites and those the elites employ -- they are merely spectators and occasional lever-pullers come election time. That's it. So for many, sports serves as a substitute, and there one can be an "active" participant in the spectacle, which usually translates into binge drinking, oafish behavior, tribalist conformity to one's team, and as we see more and more, violence and threats of violence. And I say this as a sports fan myself, though I have yet to destroy property or threaten a stranger to show my enthusiasm.

posted by afl-aba at 11:01 AM on February 28

Part of the deal here is that jerks and idiots have been given free reign to express themselves all over the internet and other forums of discourse (including this site). It is clear that not everyone on the planet should be allowed such free and easy expressive access. Some people just don't handle themselves well when given this type of opportunity. Also, we're many years into a period in which outrage and the outrageous are profitable and seemingly legitimate commodities. Think of all the radio and TV hosts and columnists that wouldn't have a career otherwise. In all categories, not just sports. Trash talking is now practiced all the way to the top executive levels of the US government. As in "Bring 'em on" when the first wave of insurgency hit Iraq. There's a whole generation of people for whom the tramp-jumping slam-jamming primate posse at halftime is a core reality, not a passing moment of amusement. And then there's the contemporary behavior of the players and coaches themselves, the key inaugural moment being the classic shot of Ali standing over the fallen Liston with the scream and the clenched fist. After that, it was anything goes. Including having moments where there appears to be a loss of attachment to any semblance of reality. Woody Hayes, Bob Knight, Ron Artest, and too many others to name. So with that type of cultural environment, it's no wonder that a facility full of stooges who have paid more than any sane person ever dreamed anyone would have to pay to attend a sporting event, even at the college level, seem to be determined to get their money's worth any way they see fit.

posted by beaverboard at 11:05 AM on February 28

Woe are American fans. I'm glad those foreign soccer fans are always so well behaved and give me an example of how to act at sporting events. Anyways, directing signs and chants at the players during the game is one thing I can tolerate. But, calling up the dudes sending death threats and harrassing their families, before and during a game? Extremely over the line and in some cases I wouldn't mind seeing some criminal charges or people at least banned from the stadium.

posted by jmd82 at 11:06 AM on February 28

...says Michigan State coach Tom Izzo. "I hate to say this because freedom of speech is at issue, but this isn't what freedom of speech is ­intended for." Freedom of speech ends at the use of Obscenities, Fighting words, Defamation (includes libel, slander), Perjury, Blackmail, Incitement to imminent lawless action, True threats, Solicitations to commit crimes. (1 of countless sources) All of which in the article are going on now at college basketball games. This shouldn't even be an issue. The NCAA should step in if schools cant ensure the safety of opposing players and fans. Anyone making threats of bodily harm should be identified and handled by the judicial system. I cant go around threatening to kill the president so why should I be allowed to threaten John Doe because he chose to play for the other guys? ...in the year 2008 many fans are waving anti-gay signs, which often appear on national TV broadcasts. Good to see homophobia is alive and well on college campuses.

posted by Folkways at 11:15 AM on February 28

I think alot of the disrespect toward the athlete especially in basketball is caused by the fan being so close to the court, and also the limited number of people who can attend the event. In football fans are 50,60,70,yards from the playing field and many of their rants fade into a crowd that is typically 50K to 100K strong. There is also so much media coverage of the indiviual athlete of today. The two players that were the center of the article have been covered by the media with a fine tooth comb since way before the basketball season started and there is very little in their lives that are private. By the way both guys are fine young men. If I were a parent I would encourge my son or daughter not to have a cell phone, or paticipate in any kind of web blog period. I don't think that is at all fair to the kid but it may cut down on the lunacy that seems to prevail in sports today. However I don't think this is anything new. I played bball in Indiana in the early 70s and my teamate was in the running for Mr. Basketball. We played a game at a Bloomington, Ind. high school and proceeded to win the game. When my teammate and I left the court to allow others on the team some playing time we were spit on and cursed at to the exterme. My mother and father got the same treatment when they left the gym. The next day I got a personal call at home from the AD of the highschool we beat and he apologized to me for the behavior of his fans, i think that is the difference. I wonder if these type of actions by the fans are taken seriously by the AD,coach or school president. I guess a player, parent , or fan will have to be hurt before something is done.

posted by sportnut at 11:18 AM on February 28

And then there's the contemporary behavior of the players and coaches themselves, the key inaugural moment being the classic shot of Ali standing over the fallen Liston with the scream and the clenched fist. After that, it was anything goes. Goodness gracious, it was a boxing match. Don't you think that may have had something to do with it?

posted by lil_brown_bat at 12:00 PM on February 28

I can't condone any fan using violence or the threat of violence against an opponent. If an incident happens, perhaps the NCAA ought to require the offending school to play its home games without spectators, bands, cheerleaders, or anyone else in attendance. The financial hit ought to wake up the offenders and have them policing their students. Fan behavior in cheering, taunting, or otherwise making things uncomfortable for a visiting team is quite another matter. As long as some reasonable control is kept over threatening, foul, or otherwise demeaning language, I say anyting goes. If you can come up with a clever taunt, even though it might be a put-down, more power to you. The last thing I want to see is the PC Nazis telling the crowd at a sporting event what they can or can't yell. (I remember when I was in college - no we didn't use stone tablets to take notes on - we were taunting one of our opponents, Rhode Island, with the chant URI URI URI NE. It lasted about 5 minutes before our University administration called it to a screeching halt.) Why do fans act this way? I lay the blame on the permissive methods of parenting that have been in vogue since the Dr. Spock days. It hasn't been an overnight thing, but each succeeding generation seems to get a little worse. When you're in a crowd of like-minded people, the herd instinct takes over as well. What would be completely out of the question for you as an individual suddenly becomes acceptable behavior in the mob. Unless there is a return to the good (?) old days of strict discipline when raising children, you'll probably never see a tendency toward increased civility in society, especially at sporting events.

posted by Howard_T at 01:34 PM on February 28

Good article gfinsf. I knew about Gordon at Illinois but hadn't heard about Love's ordeal with Oregon. Something is terribly wrong if a player's family can't attend a college basketball game without fearing for their safety. Its one thing to yell "hey lady, your son is a bum!" but another thing to throw a drink or yell something much more boorish and obscene. For me, its very surprising that universities don't crack down on this type of behavior. Someone mentioned Bob Knight as an example of how sports behavior has gone awry and I couldn't agree more. Whats funny though is that part of Knight's ironic makeup is that while it was OK for him to be a complete ass, he would not allow fans at IU's assembly hall to get too far out of line. I can remember more than a few times I witnessed him reprimanding the fans for something he deemed inappropriate. the key inaugural moment being the classic shot of Ali standing over the fallen Liston with the scream and the clenched fist. Thank gawd we've identified the starting point for this behavior. Now we have to find Sam Beckett so he can quantum leap back to that fight and change the course of history forever.

posted by curlyelk at 02:33 PM on February 28

"Sam, Saaaaaaaaaammmm, we need to make sue the acceptable one beats the uppity one so we win Vietnam."

posted by yerfatma at 02:53 PM on February 28

curlyelk, I was going to bring BK into this thread but I thought I might get my head handed to me. I was at one of those games in Bloomington when he reprimanded the fans. I tend to agree with Howard_T, if there is no respect taught in the home how can anybody expect there to be any expressed among young adults at an athletic event. However I don't think every young college basketball fan should have to take the blame, I'm sure there are many good and respectable young fans at the games. Maybe they should say something to the fan that is out of order. I also think that the prevailing mentality is that if a fan pays cold hard cash for a ticket that fan should be allowed to say and do anything they want.

posted by sportnut at 03:06 PM on February 28

This is definitely becoming a problem. I mean the school's 6th leading scorer alltime won't return to a University of Oregon game because his son chose another school and was verbally abused for it. We are quickly reaching the point where if something is not done someone is going to be seriously injured or worse. The schools, conferences and the NCAA need to do something about this. Now the problem where to draw the line. If a school has to play a game in an empty arena for this there will be a riot on campus, you can count on that. The parenting thing is a great point but it is almost too late to do anything about that. I for one also blame the media. They continually show the "celebrations" of the players and the announcers themselves are over the top. I don't know how to solve it but something needs to be done before someone is hurt.

posted by chuck'n'duck at 05:59 PM on February 28

I also think that the prevailing mentality is that if a fan pays cold hard cash for a ticket that fan should be allowed to say and do anything they want. posted by sportnut at 3:06 PM CST on February 28 Does that include throwing things at women from behind? Gee that guy is real tough.

posted by jrsrigmvr at 07:46 PM on February 28

Problem Solved.

posted by BoKnows at 09:29 PM on February 28

BoKnows, That is from a professional player's mind set. What these players are going through is literally criminal and their family members are victims of criminal acts. I remember the first incident (in my memory) of player harassment was when Chris Washburn of NC State stole a stereo, or something, and the Duke students got all over him. I remember thinking that was rough but funny, what we see some places now is no longer funny. You can shame BK for some of his actions but I hope you appluade him, in hindsight, for doing the right thing when "his" fans got out of control. This has to happen more, in that case, BK was an example of good sportsmanship.

posted by gfinsf at 06:04 AM on February 29

jrsrigmvr, Please don't think that is my attitude. That was my perception of one part of the problem.

posted by sportnut at 07:07 AM on February 29

I think the real issue here is television. 20 year olds have always been idiots; pretty sure since the dawn of time. Just go to any college campus in America (or anywhere else for that matter) and spend a Friday night walking around and you will know what I mean. I have been one of those idiots, so please note that this is part self criticism. The difference between pro events and college events is that pro events are generally too expensive for 20 year olds to attend en-masse with 2000 of their closest friends. For free or a nominal cost, any college student sports fan can get into a basketball or football game. In the past couple of decades, college sports have begun to be televised nationally almost on the scale of pro events. So, what do you get when you take stupid, drunk, exhibitionist 18-22 year olds who think they are really clever, and put them on national TV? Well I think we can see the result. Not to say that this only occurs in college sports, or is solely due to TV. I would say that the closest comparison elsewhere to student sections at college basketball would be the ultras at European football stadia, who are also generally younger, drunker, rowdier, racistier (yes, I have decided that that is a word) fans.

posted by Chargdres at 09:19 AM on February 29

If a school has to play a game in an empty arena for this there will be a riot on campus, you can count on that. ...and shortly thereafter, there could be no intercollegiate sports programs on that campus. Just as the NCAA has the power to sanction member universities for recruiting violations and other violations of policy, it should have the power to severely sanction a school when the behavior of its fans becomes an issue of safety, let alone the commission of felony criminal threatening. Actually, the NCAA might not have to do it at all. If the local police, county sheriff, or state police at a school's location were to decide that its (the school's) fans were out of control and a danger to public safety, they could take the steps of banning spectators. Any students that might riot risk expulsion from a university. As unruly and immature as some might be, I would think that the prospect of fundamentally harming one's future would tend to discourage this sort of thing. As sportnut rightly pointed out, there are "many good and respectable young fans". I'm sure there are more of them than there are rowdies. Their influence could be a strong force against hooliganism, and could even move an administration to do its own policing of its fans.

posted by Howard_T at 10:36 AM on February 29

The NCAA is clearly once again out of step with reality, and it seems entirely appropriate for them to sanction schools who cannot provide a reasonable level of security to fans and players. And to the posters above. This behavior has NOTHING to do with the internet, cell phones, blogs or anything like that. Just because similar behavior gets exhibited in those media, doesn't mean that it any kind of cause. The cause is poor parenting. Period. But thats a whole 'nother discussion.

posted by sfts2 at 01:18 PM on February 29

sfts2, I am not saying that the students are doing this stuff because they see it on TV, internet, blogs, etc. I am saying a lot of them are doing it because they want to be seen on TV, blogs, etc. As far as blaming the parents, I think to some degree you are right, but the fact is, these are all adults (young adults to be sure, but all of voting age), and thus it is their own fault if they act like idiots. As I have said before, 18-22 year olds are inherently idiotic exhibitionists, so putting them on national TV, and having ESPN show all of the students with their "clever" signs, and praising how wonderfully "hostile" their home court is to play in for opposing teams, adds fuel to this firestorm.

posted by Chargdres at 01:55 PM on February 29

The cause is poor parenting. Period. Not to delve too deeply into the "whole 'nother discussion", I have to somewhat disagree. While poor parenting is a problem I don't think it has much to do with inappropriate, degrading, threatening and at times criminal behavior at college basketball games. These are college kids we are talking about ferchrissake. The parents/guardians or who ever raised these kids must have done something right or they wouldn't be there. The greatest factor I can see is the mob mentality. I truly don't believe the large majority of college students behave this way in small groups or at other events. It has been the inability of Administrations and the NCAA to recognize the difference between harmless heckling and the kind of criminal activities described in the article that is the big picture here. Period.

posted by Folkways at 02:14 PM on February 29

The cause is poor parenting. Period. Not to delve too deeply into the "whole 'nother discussion", I have to somewhat disagree. While poor parenting is a problem I don't think it has much to do with inappropriate, degrading, threatening and at times criminal behavior at college basketball games. These are college kids we are talking about ferchrissake. The parents/guardians or who ever raised these kids must have done something right or they wouldn't be there. The greatest factor I can see is the mob mentality. I truly don't believe the large majority of college students behave this way in small groups or at other events. It has been the inability of Administrations and the NCAA to recognize the difference between harmless heckling and the kind of criminal activities described in the article that is the big picture here. Period.

posted by Folkways at 02:14 PM on February 29

and praising how wonderfully "hostile" their home court is to play in for opposing teams I think chargdres hits on the most important aspect of the problem right there. Schools take great pride in being inhospitable to the opposition, and the media love to hype up the intimidation. I understand enthusiasm, and applaud many students attempts to help out the home team with it, but we've definitely moved to a point where there is a can-you-top-this attitude. With that, the line of good taste keeps getting pushed farther away from what is truly acceptable. Combine that with the mob mentality and it will continue to devolve until someone steps in to restore reason. If the schools won't do it themselves, then the NCAA certainly needs to step in. Hit them in the wallet, fining, sanctioning, and yes, taking away their privelege to host games, and the schools will undoubtedly respond.

posted by tahoemoj at 02:27 PM on February 29

I couldn't do those things. Not even as a 20-year old. That's horrible behaviour. I'd just be embarassed. Of course - this kind of thing is encouraged frequently. And sports stadiums are pretty much the last bastion of the anti-gay, anti-women set. People can have a gay brother, but not a gay captain of the local sports franchise. It's related. I also think they build 'em real stupid in some places.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 04:53 PM on February 29

"Not to say that this only occurs in college sports, or is solely due to TV. I would say that the closest comparison elsewhere to student sections at college basketball would be the ultras at European football stadia, who are also generally younger, drunker, rowdier, racistier (yes, I have decided that that is a word) fans." posted by Chargdres Don't believe you have to look across the pond to European fan misbehavior. The NFL Raiders have an excellent example of excess hormonal enthusiasim, booze and other disgusting displays in their Black Hole. Then of course there's the 'former old Browns' Dog Pound that set another poor example of degraded fan enthusiasm. Crude, rude and obnoxious are nothing new by American sporting event fan standards. It's just the recent nauture and magnitude that's starting to ratchet up.

posted by Creeker at 03:18 PM on March 01

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