Sunday, March 21, 2010

Fan Behavior

First of all, let me congratulate the Boston College Eagles on winning the Hockey East Championship at the TD Garden last night. It may have been the greatest championship game ever since the formation of Hockey East back in 1984-85. I love Jerry York and am thrilled for him and the Eagles as they move on to the NCAA playoffs next weekend. It was electric to be part of it.

Not everything was perfect about last night's experience though. I am not referring to the play on the ice, which was less than perfect in and of itself- but rather to the way that the BC fans conducted themselves in their "heckling" of Maine goaltender Dave Wilson specifically, and their chants of "Black Bears suck."

BC won the game 7-6 in overtime. Each time the Eagles scored, we were subjected to chants of " Wilson, Wilson, you suck.... in life..... in goaltending, it's all your fault, it's all your fault." Call me old fashioned, or a "prude", but I don't think that's right.

Look, I am all for expressing your love for your team. Be vocal, be loud, be enthusiastic, but be positive. BC fans did nothing but give themselves and their school a black eye in my view. Every college hockey fan base uses the word "sieve" when the opposing goaltender gives up a goal. I understand that, and it is relatively inoffensive in comparison. But please, people, clean it up. Last night went over the line. It wasn't about fun. It was about childishness.

You see it all the time with BC and BU fans going back and forth. BU fans will shout, "Jesus hates you" while BC fans come back with "BU football" making reference to the Terriers losing their football program. It has gone unchecked for a long time and once fans know they can get away with it, the problem just escalates. There is no consequence.

I am sure there were some Maine fans that engaged in some of that too, but if there was it was fewer and farther between compared to the BC fans last night.

Fans are warned prior to the game that unprofessional behavior will not be tolerated and that violators can be ejected from the arena. It doesn't happen enough. Maybe building security is afraid that if they eject someone for chanting and heckling in the manner described above, they will be sued for First Amendment violations. It needs to be enforced more. Buying a ticket to an athletic event is a privilege and carries with it certain responsibilities. If you can't enjoy the game in a fun and respectful way, don't go to the game.

Now, I want to make it clear that I am all for having fun at athletic events. I am not a killjoy. There are those that will argue that if you call a student on the carpet for heckling in an unprofessional manner, you are taking away their fun and their fun of the experience. I disagree. You can go to a game, have fun, be loud and enthsiastic, while being positive at the same time.

What I am saying here will not change anything. These chants will continue. Fans will continue to disrespect their opponents in the name of " having fun" and calling it "part of the college experience". But that doesn't mean I have to like it, or that I think it's right.

And I will give credit where it's due- the BC fans did warmly acknowledge the Maine players who were selected for the all tournament team. That was nice to see.

BC fans, if you go to Worcester, have fun. Root the Eagles on. But please keep it positive.

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