Collegiate athletic events – and especially basketball games – bring out the best of the University community. It’s great to watch kids, infants even, donning blue and white. Any school that produces alumni willing and able to gather in support of that institution has something special.
Unfortunately, these same athletic events also bring out the worst of the student body.
The chant: “Safety school!” It happened again this past week, and, it is always troubling, whether Villanova is the perpetrator or the recipient of the insult. It has been audible at Villanova’s games against Cincinnati, Pitt, Temple and most noticeably, during the contest against St. Joe’s. Each and every time it occurred I was embarrassed, embarrassed because of what chanting those words symbolizes: self-indulgent claims of superiority.
Referring to a school’s academic status, the chant demeans not only the students who currently attend and represent the opposing school, but also the thousands of alumni who have graduated in that institution’s history. It suggests that the chanters could have been accepted into the opposing school without a thought. This obviously insinuates substantially lower qualifications are necessary (lower high school GPA, lower SAT scores, etc.).
Forget players, trash talk, taunts or even physical altercations; this is the most arrogant thing that can take place at an athletic event. Somehow, things that took place between one and four years ago in an admissions process continue to find relevance during a 40-minute basketball game.
For a moment, let us suppose that when “safety school” is chanted there is something correct, in terms of admission requirements. Does that mean that every Villanova student got better grades than, for instance, every St. Joe’s student? Does it mean a Villanova degree is worth more than a St. Joe’s degree? Does it have any relevance to the game? Without doubt, the answer to each question is a resounding “no.” The point then must be to rub something in the faces of all the opposing students, alumni, teachers and administration, effectively saying, “You know what, we all go or have gone to a better school than you. This makes all of us better people than all of you.”
When Georgetown fans took up the chant in question from the upper echelons of the Wachovia Center, it was angering. Because they were segregated in seats at a higher altitude, it was not quite as loud, but it still was infuriating. They claim that their school is better than our own in every facet. How dare they! Who did they think they were, a school that accepts 20 percent fewer of their applicants than Villanova?
Certainly, Villanova’s reputation of being snobby, stuck up and condescending toward other schools and students (especially around the Philadelphia area) is undeserved and unnecessary. For the reasons previously outlined, chanting “safety school” only furthers and accentuates this reputation. It would be easy to write off the chant as simple banter between rivals. Georgetown and St. Joe’s are certainly our bitter rivals, but this does not warrant the degree of conceit required for such a chant.
This goes beyond poor sportsmanship, entering the realm of the perverse. It’s disheartening to think that students passionately believe in such a chant, rather than allowing their teams to successfully represent their institutions win, lose or draw.
Will McCullough is a senior English major and economics minor from Plymouth Meeting, Pa. He can be reached at [email protected]