A shifting culture of fandom

Feb. 20, 2013 @ 10:47 AM

Making the trek back to one's alma mater for sporting events should be a pleasant experience for alumni.
It can be difficult to enjoy the atmosphere, however, when the boundaries of sportsmanship are shifting in the current sporting culture. Sportsmanship is still bantered about as a topic of relevance at every level of athletics, but the practices of student sections everywhere tell a different story.
A recent high school basketball game served notice to the home team's fan base that one does not have to travel to Durham to watch a rabid group of "Cameron Crazies." In this particular contest, one team led by more than 60 points in a lopsided affair marred by chants and taunts that echoed into the halls.
Parents cheered for their daughters out on the court, many of whom are second and third generation students at the institution. Meanwhile, the classmates of these players remained engrossed in shouting at the other team with every missed free throw, every missed assignment, every turnover.
The losing team barely reached double figures in scoring and looked lost amid the flurry of jeers from the opposing student section. After the game, coaches shook hands and players patted each other on the back. Each side handled the disparity in talent between the two squads with stride.
This begs the question: Why would students spend more time berating an overmatched opponent than cheering its own team's dominant effort?
The answer seems to lie within this prevailing culture. As a younger generation of students — to which I belong — rises to represent schools across the state, this lack of class reveals something about what they are learning.
Flip on the tube and watch as the underdressed future doctors, lawyers and Congressmen of this nation haunt opposing teams with their shirtless chests, decorated with paint of varying hue and shade. If it seems like harmless fun, you are not alone. Fourteen-year olds in high school gymnasiums everywhere think the same thing.
For players and parents of the home team, it should be an embarrassment to walk away from a game knowing that the accomplishments of a few were drowned out by the chorus of many. And if anyone should make arrangements to traipse across the hallways of a former school, he or she should prepare for a different breed of raucous cheers.
Good bye, chants of "DE-FENSE!" Hello, "Refs, you suck!"

Staff Writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 888-3575, or kennedy@tvilletimes.com.