A Message to Fans

BY RACHEL SHULHAFER

One of the most eventful things that happened in the sports world over the weekend was that Oklahoma State sophomore Marcus Smart shoved Jeff Orr, a Texas Tech fan, during the Red Raiders’ upset of the Cowboys. Supposedly Orr said an extremely hatefulSmart-Texas-Tech-fan racial slur at Smart, but part of playing on a stage that large is learning to keep your cool in a hostile environment. Obviously, that was Smart’s big mistake, and I think suspending him was the right thing to do. But I think Orr deserves some sort of punishment as well. I can understand why Smart reacted the way he did. He’s a 19-year-old kid who had just been participating in vigorous physical activity that was not going to end in favor of his team. Then a random stranger says something extremely foul to provoke him. I don’t understand and will never understand why Orr, an adult man, would shout something offensive and rooted in hate to a person whom he doesn’t even know.

Isn’t the whole point of being a fan to proudly represent your team? Taunting other teams’ players, coaches, and fans not only reflects poorly on you, but also the school whose name you are wearing across your chest. That’s not fandom, it’s immaturity and poor sportsmanship, and it makes us all look stupid.

As a Louisville fan, I’m rarely embarrassed by other Louisville fans. All fan bases have idiots, but for the most part, we’re pretty tolerable. All the people who sit in my section at games are fairly tame and mostly positive. The only out-of-the-ordinary thing that ever happens is when the same guy shouts “I love you Ladybirds!” at the top of his lungs during the brief moment right before the music starts when the arena is silent. However, I was recently told something about some particular Louisville fans that makes me as irritated as when people smack talk to recruits on the Internet.

My dad was in the Louisville airport last week, and realized he was on the same flight as the players and coaches of a recent U of L opponent, whom they beat handily. While they waited to board, my dad started a conversation with one of the coaches and introduced himself as a U of L fan. The conversation started normally, with my dad asking the coach how he liked the Yum! Center. He was very complimentary about the facility, but didn’t seem too psyched on the people inside it. When my dad brought up the antics of the Memphis coach, who was blatantly yelling things to the crowd after they upset Louisville, the coach politely defended Memphis, and said that fans seated in the section behind the visitors’ bench were relentless about verbally harassing his players. Apparently the word “thug” was being thrown every which way, and he felt like his players’ efforts were disrespected, which they were.

C’mon people. It’s things that this that cause incidents such as the Texas Tech one to occur. Of course it should be expected that the athletes harness their temper and brush it off, but clearly that doesn’t always happen. Yelling discriminatory and hurtful things at college kids trying to play a sport is probably one of the stupidest things anyone could do at a game. It doesn’t help our team in any way, and if we’re going to condemn the fans of another school 75 miles east of the city for being ridiculous, we can’t then go and be ridiculous ourselves.

Fans heckle the athletes at varying levels of every sport all over the world, so it’s not like this is ever going to stop entirely, but we could at least try to make Louisville a respectable place.  If we’re going to be one of the best sports cities in America, start behaving like champions.

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