By Jeffery Armstrong
You know times have changed when college basketball fans start cursing at an opposing player when he goes to the free-throw line. This despicable act happened during the recent Maryland-Duke game, when Duke's J.J. Redick was cursed by Maryland fans late in the contest. The fans started chanting "F?- you, J.J." in unison, which floored me.
I've never seen or heard anything like that in my life. When I was in college, I jeered the refs when they made bad calls and I even heckled an opposing player or two, but I NEVER cursed at a player like that. None of the people I went to school with did that, either.
It's just a sign of the times. College basketball fans today are just a microcosm of society, in my opinion. I believe that overall, most people are rude, nasty and downright mean and these young adults are imitating the immature older adults they've seen.
Want proof? Check out a professional wrestling TV show, either WWE Raw or Smackdown. Pro wrestlers curse on TV, throw finger signs, defy authority and cavort with scantily-clad women. Kids today see this and emulate it for years as they grow up. Many kids think it's okay to use foul language and to be foul.
Back when I was a pro wrestling fan, you didn't see wrestlers like Tony Atlas, Bruiser Brody, Hacksaw Butch Reed, Magnum T.A., the Von Erichs and Dusty Rhodes doing those things. All they did was wrestle and do short interviews n that's it.
Back in the day, college fans would do the occasional "bullsh?" chant when they felt a ref made a bad call. Students used to come up with clever putdowns. Blowout victims would hear the "start the bus!" chants; fans would chant "who cares?" or "he sucks!" after each opposing starter was announced. I could deal with that.
But in fairness to today's knuckleheads, some college basketball fans back in the day were ugly as well. I remember one school's fans chanted "PLO" at former University of Arizona guard Steve Kerr to get under his skin one night. That was disgusting because Kerr's father, a fighter pilot, was shot down and killed by the Palestine Liberation Organization. Kerr merely lit that team up for 50 that night.
But incidents like that rarely happened in college basketball back then.
They were the exception rather than the rule it is today.
And don't give me this "we have a right to free speech" and "we are immature" crap.
I agree with Tom Izzo, head coach at Michigan State n the students are old enough to vote and get married so they are old enough to be held accountable for their actions.
And free speech doesn't mean say what you want, even if it's ugly, mean or racist.
When fans get out of hand, opposing coaches need to sit their teams down until that crap stops. The home coach needs to address the jerks and if it still happens, give out technical fouls.
That way the players and other fans will get on those jerks and force that mess to stop.
Jeffery Armstrong is a sports writer for the Daily and his column appears on Thursdays. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.