Sports fans, tactless supporters

Melissa Leach

I’ve been a Villanova fan for as long as I can remember. Some of my earliest childhood memories are of attending games with my dad; all dressed up in my blue and white paraphernalia. I loved every minute of it. From watching Rollie Massimino pace the sidelines to feeling the energy of the proud blue and white; I knew this was something I wanted be apart of. I would question everything. Why did they run that play? What does that call mean? But out of all my inquiries I don’t ever recall turning to my dad and asking him: “What is an STD”?

As I walked toward the Pavilion on Monday night and saw the crowd of students banging down the doors of the Pavilion (for hours I might add) and chanting: “Let’s go ‘Nova” – I thought to myself this is what college basketball is all about. The biggest game of the year and I was going to be a part of it. I called my Dad: “Can you hear the crowd?” This is crazy!” I was pumped, much like the other 6,499 fans that packed the Pavilion. I was honored to be a part of the blue and white, to scream and chant so loud that I lost my voice; this was going to be one exciting night – until things got ugly …

Recently, the student section has been dubbed as to having somewhat of a”potty mouth.” Using choice words to describe a referee’s bad call or to tell the other team how much they suck has given administrators and alumni something to bark about. To be quite honest, I never thought it was that bad. It wasn’t anything that I hadn’t heard while sitting in the seats with other non-student fans. Yet as the final minutes ticked down, and the crowd grew restless, students decided to take matters into their own hands. To be quite honest, I never thought we could stoop so low – for the first time in 22 years I was embarrassed to be a Villanova fan.

Students raised banners that were far from encouraging. My favorite was: “Jameer can’t read this.” Funny thing, he probably couldn’t read it because he was too busy draining 23 points to keep his team perfect at 19-0. Or what about the next one that read something so profane, that it can’t even be published in print. Let’s just say it had some beautiful drawn art work that made reference to part of the male anatomy. Please. What a disgrace. I guess there couldn’t possibly be anything else to write on a roll-out banner, perhaps: “overrated” or “the Hawk is dead.” I’m just guessing. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, when Delonte West stepped to the charity strip students started chanting “STD” and “herpes.” Apparently I must have missed the homework assignment of reading West’s medical chart prior to the game. I was speechless. Did Villanova students forget that not only were their young children in attendance, but that we were on national television? In 15 years when you come back for games with your children do you want to have to answer to them what a STD is simply because the student section couldn’t possibly think of anything more intelligent to say? Remember, you won’t be a student forever.

Villanova, we need to find a way to channel this energy into something that still manages to rattle the opposing team but remains respectful for everyone: fans as well as players. Scream as loud as you can, chant for our players, turn your backs when the starting (opposing) line-up is announced, make creative banners (that can actually be shown on TV). How can we expect our team to win when we don’t support them in a positive manner?

Change. It starts with us – right now; this season. Jay Wright and company, they depend on us. Don’t be the referee that makes the bad call. We can be the sixth man that makes the difference.