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March 1, 2014
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Ford: It only takes a few

Nevada Union Principal Mike Blake said it best when addressing allegations of fan misconduct stemming from a Nevada Union girls basketball game Tuesday.

“It’s not reflective of our student body, but it only takes a few to create a bad image,” Blake said.

In the wake of Nevada Union’s win over Sheldon there are claims that racial and homophobic slurs were thrown at Sheldon players and cheerleaders as well as pennies literally being thrown at them by Nevada Union fans.

Whether the claims are true or not, the debate has heated up about fan-to-player decorum and what can or should be done to ensure a respectable contest in the stands and on the court.

Nevada Union has taken steps to educate the student body on proper fan etiquette and it showed at Thursday’s game.

But, with several recent incidents of player and fan interactions getting out of control, such as Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart pushing a fan after being called a derogatory name, Oregon assistant coaches being spit on by Arizona State fans, or most recently the brawl that broke out between players and fans after a New Mexico State vs. Utah Valley game (see B2 for the full story), it is high time something be done on a larger scale.

Basketball is different from the other major sports in that the crowd has easy access to the field of play. Football, baseball, hockey and soccer all have fences or other barriers between the athletes and those there to cheer or jeer for them. But in basketball the fans are right on the floor. There’s an intimacy there, an intimacy that has gotten a little too close for comfort.

And it’s unfortunate that thousands of fans with good intentions get lumped in with the few knuckleheads who think the game is about them.

In a packed house there is bound to be a few that have no self -control, self-respect or self -awareness and these are the few to whom Blake was referring. These are the fans who think every call goes against their team. The “call it both ways,” fans. They think it’s OK to scream at referees and taunt the opposing team as long as it is in furtherance of their own team.

Then there are the fans who believe their actions are warranted because their intentions are, in their mind, justified.

Three weeks ago a Colfax High School fan initiated a physical altercation with Bear River freshman girls basketball coach Jack McCrory. Apparently the fan didn’t like that McCrory still had the press on with a sizable lead.

The examples go on and on, and as someone who attends a lot of prep games, almost no fan base is with out its self-righteous yahoos.

But, this column isn’t about me getting on my soap box and chastising over-involved spectators, I’ve already done that. In fact, I love a fervent fan base. The unity of thousands with a common bond through sport is amazing to me. But as of late it has turned ugly. The opposing team is not your enemy, in most cases, especially at the high school level, they are people who live less than an hour away.

This column simply asks fans to remember what they are — fans. Whether it’s professional, college or high school basketball you are merely a fan. Before you scream at a ref, yell at a player or approach a coach, take a second and ask, “What would my kid think and what am I teaching them?” Would your son or daughter want you pushing the coach of the other team? Do you want your kid throwing fits when the call goes against them? The answer is no.

So before basketball starts putting up fences or Taser-toting guards are hired to stop bad fan interactions, let’s try to remember why we attend these events: To root for our own teams, not to berate the opponent.

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email wford@theunion.com.


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The Union Updated Mar 1, 2014 12:19AM Published Mar 3, 2014 02:21PM Copyright 2014 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.