Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Tuesday Extra: Are We Obscene?

Today while looking on UAA's Student Newspaper website The Northern Light for it's recap of last weekends games, I found this editorial which (from my perspective) tried somewhat to spank the UAA student section for some of it's actions this past weekend. It's titled "Fans Should Bring Respect to the University". It's probably an opinion that more than a few people share however I took umbrage with it's premise and conclusions. Naturally, I left a comment. There is no byline that I can see so I'll have to just attribute it to "editor". I'm only quoting portions here so do visit the link I've provided to see the entire editorial. I have though included my entire comment. I encourage readers here (from both sides of this issue) to comment at The Northern Light website and/or here as you so desire.
Excessive face paint and green and yellow wigs highlight rabid UAA sports fans. They bear cold weather and the uncomfortable dryness from caked-on body paint all in an effort to showcase their green and gold spirit.

But the sports fans around the world also have a darker side. It can be easy to let the moment get a hold of an avid fan. Parents across the country have gone to jail for assaulting referees and coaches at Little League games. People have even lost their lives in soccer riots.

It is clear hockey fans have fewer boundaries on how they express their support of a home team than in other sports such as golf.

Sure, fans will taunt the other team, especially those in the penalty box, but one thing UAA fans should remember is that though home games should be a place for people to get excited and noisy, it is important to still be an example to the smaller UAA fans at the games.

Obscene chants and gestures can be toned down for the more family-oriented crowd.

Every once in a while, though, fans make themselves look like fools. Shouting obscenities across the arena or fighting with the opponents' fans doesn't represent sportsmanship.

Chants like, "Who sucks? UAF!" and "Goalie, you suck!" are often heard at games, but fans should try to come up with a better chide than that.

Really, that's the best fans can do? "You suck," a phrase eerily reminiscent of a fifth-grade playground chant, just makes fans sound unintelligent.

UAF is our main rival. With all the wins and dirt we have on them, it should be easier to come up with something better - and slightly more sportsmanlike - than "You suck."

The Sullivan Arena and the Wells Fargo Sports Complex may be some of the only places in Anchorage people can get away with wearing full body paint, howling and screaming at the top of their lungs. However, it is important for fans to remember the community is watching and the games have plenty of little Seawolf fans looking up to those around them.

Athletic events are the easiest way for the community to see the hard work UAA athletes and students accomplish, and at the same time, they're a chance for students to let their hair down and support their school. Fans should do this in a way that makes others respect our university.
My comment:
Taunts at UAA are tame in comparison to other venues in college hockey. While you'd almost certainly retort that other's bad behavior shouldn't grant a license to UAA fans to act (in your judgement and by your standards) in an obscene manner; the fact remains. You miss the point by calling a chant that includes "you suck" childish. It is the simplicity of the phrase and the it's strong verbal projection that makes it an impactful thing for fans to use. Apparently, you missed the "Pull Your Johnson" chants near the end of the game when UAF Chad Johnson was in goal. No doubt you would characterize that as childish as well.

I don't think it's ever a good idea in a college environment to so hastily judge things as obscene. Especially words. Do you really believe that some words are "bad"? I won't disagree that some words have connotations that are disagreeable to some people. I don't particularly like the word "rape" but it is used everyday in your profession. Are "suck" or even an "f-bomb" (which you will hear at other college hockey venues) really worse than "murder", "rape", "pillage", "kill" or for that matter "war"? I don't think so. In context "suck" and "f-bombs" as used by fanbases in college hockey are just words to express the idea that the opponent isn't worthy and to taunt them. Are they derogatory? Yes. Are they obscene in context? No they aren't.

Please lets not take steps back to some Victorian ideal. We should all be past that era shouldn't we? I for one was happy to see an enthusiatic group of students taunting our hated rival. Nice job! Come back and do the same thing every weekend and maybe in time UAA's home rink will get the same sort of widely admired reputation as the Kohl Center or Agganis Arena or Conte Forum or the dozens of other college hockey rinks where opponents receive MUCH harsher treatement (chant-wise). Last weekend in Duluth the student section tried to taunt an Austrian player with the chant "The Hapsburgs Suck". Is that childish or creative in your book? BTW ... it didn't catch on.

Let "the mob" have it's way eh? It's mostly useful and healthy in terms of an emotional outlet. After all ... it's a hockey game; not a piano recital.
I think this is an important discussion to have. I'm personally proud that I have a 15 year old daughter who has long understood that every word in the language is equal to every other word. Judging language and/or categorizing it with terms like "obscene" just has never sat right with me. The hypocrisy of maintaining some false veil of decorum in public or at the workplace and then going home and letting a "shit!" fly when someone drops their favorite teacup onto the marble tile amazes me. I'd prefer a world where we use the most expressive language (English) to it's full capabilities. But I know that's just me. Please chime in. I'd like to hear what others have to say about this and I'll restrain myself from the comments section since I've had my say.


Suze said...

I don't see any comments over there, what's up with that?

At least they recognized our over rated chant last season! :)

I say let the kids have some fun, and don't throw cold water on their school spirit. I'd rather have that than fans sitting on their hands.

Kris said...

What does it say about my school when my fellow students lack the creativity to say much of anything but vulgarity. I actually agree with the fact that it should be toned down for the sake of the children in the arena. It shows a lack of intelligence and creative use of the english language when the most common word is suck. Is this the language that we want our future Alaskan adults to know and use?

I personally think that there the language choice of so many of my peers is largely due to a lack of maturity, which so many young and old adults are lacking.

So, let's grow up and be passionate about our Seawolves and set an example to other teams about our fans' sportsmanship and passion glued together by creativity.

gcoulson said...

I just wish I could get all the painted fans to sit on the other side of the rink. Opposite of the JPC production Cameras. That way they could get on TV once in a while. I'll be honest, the last thing I think about when we score is where's the fans. Mostly we're concerned with crediting the correct players with the goals. Something I fell short on this weekend (we'll get better I promise). Just the same it would be nice for a rowdy crowd to pop-up behind a goal celebration, or chide a bad penalty, or razz a ref.
That's an element that also sells tickets. The people in the crowd want to feel like they matter. Let me tell you, they do.


Anonymous said...

what happend to the creative anti-uaf chants that were around went there, I remmber some of my fellow students would work hard to think of stuff to beat the uneducated uaf fans. (all they know how is to copy are chants and put uaf instead of uaa and yell you suck)

LetsGoMavs said...

Wow...I hope your reporter never comes to Mankato!! I'm guessing this chant would put him/her over the edge!!:

"(enter WCHA ref's name here) needs a sheep!"

"(enter WCHA ref's name here) needs a sheep!"

"(enter WCHA ref's name here) needs a sheep so he stops f-ing us!"

...and some nights that's the mild chant!! I guess when that comes up it's time for parents to *gasp!* parent their child. Explain that the language and actions are not right but it's freedom of speech. I had to have that chant with my neice and nephew last year at a Mavs game when they started to count the naughty words they were hearing. They survived and it just took ME being an adult to educate them. It's going to happen. We can't sheild our children from everything!

Also...my harassment of you is up on the blog!

jjack said...

I agree that UAA games are far from obscene in college sports standards, Unless your Alma Mater is Liberty University or something like that.

My school has tee shirts that say "Eat Shit Carroll" (Carroll College being our conference rival). I'm guessing they aren't officially sanctioned but I don't see anyone doing anything about it either.

Anonymous said...

If the UAA students would all sit in the student section, I'm guessing there wouldn't be a LOT of little children around to hear the chants anyway.

Jeff said...

Just to let you know; it wasn't me

Donald Dunlop said...

This will be my only comment here since I said I'd restrain myself being that I had my say.

I didn't think it was you. I understand what the editor said and only hope that he/she allows my comment on the website. I'll assume for now that it's just a matter of timing and that when they see the submission they'll update the page and it can be viewed.

I was actually on the site looking for your article which I thought was published on Tuesdays. Hopefully that'll be up tomorrow. I'll link to it on my next post.

Suze said...

She didn't post my comments either Donald.

Anonymous said...

"....every word in the language is equal to every other word."

"I'd prefer a world where we use the most expressive language (English) to it's full capabilities."

"The hypocrisy of maintaining some false veil of decorum in public or at the workplace and then going home and letting a "shit!" fly when someone drops their favorite teacup onto the marble tile amazes me."

These pearls of wisdom from the same guy who goes ape shit when Frank Mazzacco refers to the Seawolves as the 'Sea Puppies'.

Hypocrisy indeed!

Anthony Allen Pollreisz said...

Oh god, "it" has hit up there too? Come friggin' on.

And note, I'm stepping on my soapbox.

The "it," the ridiculous prudishness, must be spreading everywhere now.

We have the same problem here. Basically, a whole bunch of rich alumni, who are very likely quite disconnected with the world as it is today, have begun a war with the students over the use of profane chants in an attempt to impress and not offend their friends who graduated from other schools. The campaign has now trickled down from the skyboxes at the football stadium to the not-so-rich alumni, citing that the purity of our sporting events is being tarnished by those "no-goodnicks."

Honestly, after seeing and hearing some of the so-called solutions to fix the "problem" (one person was crazy enough to recommend totally banishing students from all sporting events altogether), I'm getting sick and tired of the complaining.

Granted, I'm not a "pro-profanity everywhere" type of person. Yes, I drop the occasional "F-bomb" with friends and can occasionally have a sailor-mouth, but usually I abstain from the profane chants. But to threaten these kids - and well, they still are kids - or tell them that they're doing some major disservice to their school is just utter BS.

For one, bless - NOT chastise - those poor souls in the UAA student "section."

Note that I used quotes above - not to harp on UAA, but the fact that there is no unified student section, band, nor fight song stuns me to this day.

And that's the thing. These kids, despite the lack of an organized section, are doing their best to invigorate that cold, dead, leaky, cavernous building that is Sullivan Arena. They do their darndest to liven the place up and make the place intimidating.

And frankly, today, that's the reason why a school has a student section to begin with - to get the place rockin' and to make the venue inhospitable to the other team. Not to make people feel warm and fuzzy. Not to impress alumni of other schools.

As for the swearing itself, well, I assure you that, unless the people who attend hockey games today are ridiculously religious, those who complain about the issue are total hypocrites. I assure you that the complainers also drop the occasional "F-bomb" with friends and tend to also have a "sailor-mouth."

But what about the children at the game? Well, I assure you that little Billy, while up in his tree-house with his friends, has just as nasty of a tongue, if not worse. You just haven't caught him yet.

People, stop with the whole damn "purity" thing! Nothing - NOTHING - is pure anymore in this society, and that's REALITY. Swearing is everywhere! The supermarket! Your favorite restaurant! Hell, it's probably at your favorite religious establishment! And I'll even bet - *GASP* - that it, too, is at your local sporting event, and, *DOUBLE GASP*, it also might reside outside of that collection of "no-goodnicks" on the lower concourse as well!

And frankly, if the UAA student section is restraining themselves to just a couple of "F-bombs" and "...you sucks" per game, that's darn tame compared to other student sections across the nation.


Fact is, if you're letting a little coarse language by a group of people dictate how you feel and your overall enjoyment at any sporting event, seriously, you have social problems which must be dealt with.

I'll step off my soap-box now.

Jimjamesak said...

Hey Jeff, we know it wasn't you. Also this doesn't seem to reflective of the attitudes of most students since most people we're saying to us "hey that was the most fun we've had at a hockey game yet". I actually find it a point of pride and progress when I see stuff like this.

Jimjamesak said...

The other thing I find funny is that the editor gives two examples of chants that we didn't use. We used "Who still sucks? Fairbanks sucks!" not "Who sucks? UAF sucks." and of course "Sieve!" and not "Goalie you suck!"

joen05 said...

Hey, I think that a little vulgarity and an extreme passion for the game are great. They don't allow swearing at my arena anymore, so they proved its not essential, but I still think that face painting, body painting, and ridiculous outfits are all part of the game.

No swearing does make finding great chants more interesting though.

Perhaps we can exchange links? I have a BU hockey blog. Let me know!


Donald Dunlop said...

Anon @ 7:09am:
Mazzoco gets paid as a professional color commentator on a network providing a broadcast to hockey fans of all sorts (i.e... not just Gopher rubes) and insulting the other team as he did should have resulted in sanctions from his employer. When Dubay ragged out the refs FSN tossed him didn't they?

Advocating that students be allowed to express themselves and using arguments to make the point that society should abandon outdated judgements about the use of our language is a completely different thing.

So if going ape shit about some alleged professional hairpiece-wearing boob insulting my team on the television and advocating for the equal use all words had anything in common then perhaps you'd be right. But they don't. So you aren't.

Kris said...

To JimJames:

I do believe the "goalie you suck chant" was used, but in the way of, "Hey Goalie... You Suck!!!" and only once that I can remember, that being Saturday night at Wylie.

Anonymous said...

What are the UAA fans chanting when an opponent gets a penalty? It sounds like "you! you! you!"
If so those students are f-ing retarted.

Jeff said...

I dont know why my article isn't on the website, but i looked and saw it in this weeks paper. I dont think it's my best article though. i'll do better on the next one.

Suze said...

It sure was disappointing that hte coaches show wasn't on at 8 pm last night as promised.

jjack said...


I'm sure it was GCI's fault again. Hopefully someday they will be bought out by a REAL cable company.

gcoulson said...

I talked to GCI. They said the Coach's Show was moved to 6:30pm. It sure would have been nice to know of the programming change before it already aired. I'm remarkably frustrated by this whole thing.


Suze said...

Glen, it must be very frustrating after putting in all that work. Has it been moved to 6:30 for good?

Don't give up, it's a great idea! Just need to get GCI straightened out. We all appreciate your efforts!!

Jeffsnumberonefan said...

Some of you are so ignorant! The editorial isn't saying that profanity shouldn't be allowed at ANY sports games, not just hockey, but that we could be more intelligent than chants like "You suck!"

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