A Word On Sportsmanship and Being Critical

I shared this story on Twitter the other night from Kentucky Sports Radio about a UK fan and his experience in Bloomington with his dad and brothers.

Here at BS, we rant  about a lot of things and we're certainly passionate and have a lot of distaste for programs like ND football, IU basketball, Duke basketball, etc. As you know, we do not hide that or shy away from saying things that might tweak people -- I dare say that it might be one of the reasons that a lot of you read us.

However, we do actually appreciate and believe in good sportsmanship and respecting other human beings. Taking digs at a program or ripping a coach or calling an on-court action embarrassing is no where near the same as throwing debris at fans of opposing teams or cursing at them or calling them slurs. I'd just like to get that out there because I think the lines get blurred these days and for every time we (or someone like us) has an issue with the behavior of fans/coaches/etc., someone else has to point out a shortcoming of ours or our program's.

Let's be clear -- when other fans act like toolbags and embarrass their university, we're allowed to take issue with it. It doesn't mean that there aren't embarrassing douchebags representing Purdue (remember the one who called us Nazis in September?) -- there absolutely are. And we're on record as calling out our own student section for their unnecessary use of the word "bitch" after the first down chant.

There's always this nonsense out there that unless you're utterly flawless that you cannot take umbrage with something else. Enjoy your rival losing? "Yeah, well, look at our banners!" Find fan behavior awful? "Hey, Purdue fans do obnoxious things, too!" Think Georgia is the worst SEC ten-win team ever? "Durrr! We (SEC) still are winning another national title this  year!"

It seems that the world of sports criticism is flanked by doofus people who feel that unless you're undefeated, #1 in the country and flawless in terms of every having done anything wrong -- ever -- you cannot comment on the world around you. This is silly and kind of naive.

The fact is, every program is flawed and every teams, whether professional or collegiate, has fans who display rotten behavior or cluelessness. So let's just understand that.

Let's also understand this: In no way are we endorsing Kentucky fans, nor are we under any sort of illusion that they're innocent, paragons of morality. But if what is outlined in the above-linked piece is accurate then IU fans should be ashamed.

I know that if there were reports of that happening to that degree on our beloved campus, we would surely be critical and embarrassed. And I also know the experience does not have to be like that. B-dowd and I have talked with opposing fans many times --  in fact, most times we are in an opposing venue, we talk with people who on the surface shouldn't like us. However, if someone walked into Harry's wearing IU gear, aside from the good-natured boo, I don't think many of us would be obnoxious to them. In fact, I think we'd drink a brew together as fans of basketball and look forward to the rivalry. But maybe I'm the one being naive.

When B-dowd and I attended the Sweet 16 in Houston in 2010, we spent some time talking to a couple guys dressed in Duke blue who claimed to be huge fans (from Ohio or something, if I recall correctly). We chatted for a while, got pics with them in their Zubaz pants, and learned that one of the guys was wearing a blue shirt without a logo because he likes Duke and Kentucky. Wow. So while we think they're kind of goobers as fans, we would never hurl epithets at them or call them slur-names. Why would we? What does that get us? And moreover, they weren't insulting us or our school. They might be front-runners but that's about all you can say about them.

I hope that when fans of opposing schools venture onto Purdue's campus that the current students and visiting alums treat them the way they would like to be treated. If they mouth off to you or give you the finger, well, far be it from me to lecture you on keeping your cool. But if they're just there to support their team/school and are relatively respectful? Why not show them class? Isn't that what we want of our children and our team?

Or would we rather our programs turn into "gangstas"?

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