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.My comment:
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.
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.