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Show respect at all sporting events

Observer Editorial | Friday, September 19, 2003

Respect.

All of us know what it is. All of us want to be treated with it. All of us, at times, like to say we embody it.

However, all too often, the momentum and highly-charged atmosphere of situations like sports games can expose the dark, ill-mannered side of people, where fans become too caught up in the rivalry and the fun of the event is lost. Part of this is due to the fact that, for many, attending a game is not just an opportunity to see two teams compete; it is also an event involving tradition, tailgates and good-spirited rivalry.

But very often, respect is sacrificed to the peripheral events to the actual game, which then becomes overshadowed.

Anyone who went to last week’s Michigan game experienced this lack of respect; fans showed it to each other firsthand. Staging mock lynchings, chanting expletive-filled cheers and engaging in banter that went far beyond friendliness does not accurately embody the true meaning of the game or its spirit.

While expressing spirit and tradition is important and rivalry is to be expected, fans must realize where the proverbial line is that they should not cross. Attending sporting events is supposed to be fun and entertaining, but unruly behavior detracts from and spoils the entire event.

Fans are an important part of sporting events because they can boost the momentum of the game by showing support for the athletes. Though teams spend long hours training and conditioning, many athletes say that their performances can be buoyed by the enthusiasm of their fans. Fans who do not embrace their teams but embarrass them instead do not deserve the right to attend the games in the first place.

Recently, many of the Olympic sports at Notre Dame have seen an increased fan presence because dorms will support their residents on the team, which then can turn into a bonding activity. However, their support and rallying together is lost when individuals find it necessary to excessively taunt the opposing teams or fans.

Fans must remember that the focus of a sporting event is the competition between the two teams, not the two sets of fans or the fans and the opposing team. Singling out players fans of the opposition in a cruel manner is uncalled for, unnecessary, tasteless and, above all, disrespectful.

Notre Dame a place of rich football tradition that is buoyed by spirited and respectful fans. Remember the rivalry that went bad in Ann Arbor this weekend and don’t stoop to the same level this weekend or in the future. At all future sporting events, do not let tastelessness or disrespectfulness tear down or overshadow this tradition.