The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Tuesday October 26th

Taking Rivalry Past Levels of Basic Decency

Things started off badly when sections of people couldn't even respect the patriotic moments during pregame. During "The Star Spangled Banner," some fans used "the rocket's red glare" and "the home of the brave" as opportunities to cheer for their team.

A grown, but obviously drunken, man behind me called Sen. John Edwards and Gov. Mike Easley "damn liberals" while they were honoring a man for rescuing a disabled woman trapped in the World Trade Center.

Throughout the game, this man seemed fixated on loathing leftists. Yelling toward our section, but at no one in particular, he accused us of supporting Afghanistan over the United States. First of all, we can't generalize the UNC campus as entirely liberal. Second, no one supports terrorism and bombing innocent people -- left or right. That's a indictment too horrible to give people who simply have opposing political views or college ties.

But, this man, who I'll write off as an embarrassing exception, was not alone -- the rest of the fans didn't behave perfectly either, even aside from shouting during the national anthem.

They booed us, yelled things when we walked past, singled out certain people and insulted their weight or supposed sexual preference and spit gum at a friend of mine.

Even after the game, which State lost, fans continued to taunt us, tell us our band and school "sucked" and even encourage little girls with red pompoms to yell at us.

Two nights ago, I was in my sister's room when one of her friends from State, whom I've never met, Instant Messaged her. I told him who I was, and we typed back and forth for a little while. I asked if he'd gone to the game, and he said he was in the State marching band. I thought it was neat, especially since our bands played "God Bless America" together on Saturday.

Before I could type anything, he started trashing our band for it's "weak sound" and said that we obviously were incapable of memorizing music. He also said it was ironic that our school band chose circus show songs (since we are supposedly a "zoo" of liberals).

I couldn't believe it. I'm sure he was at least partially kidding, but I'd never even met him.

Somehow, a marching band rivalry between State and Carolina just seems ridiculous. I'm not saying we shouldn't cheer at sports games or care about which team wins.

Obviously it matters who wins. That's the point. I cared more than usual on Saturday, surrounded by thousands of fans who looked like little red devils waiting to pounce. Even so, it's still a game, and the people involved -- fans or players -- are still people. Surely there's a way to enjoy competition and sporting events without transforming the relationship between schools and their fans into something sinister.

When my dad was in school in Ohio, the only other student from North Carolina had gone to State.

They became friends, and the man called us whenever State beat UNC. One time, he went through the Bible and found passages about wolves coming after lambs.

Even for a kid who never watched football, it was a lot of fun.

I'm not saying that we have to react mildly or that we shouldn't ever get overly excited about sports. Cheering for games unites us as a school and lets us spend time with friends.

Furthermore, sports events offer some of the few situations in which everyone feels free to express emotions.

That said, this weekend, when we host the game against East Carolina University, and at sports events in general, let's choose our actions carefully.

We go to these games representing Carolina. If we act like barbarians -- throw cups at people, yell drunken insults to anyone wearing the opposing team's colors -- visiting fans go home disgusted by our school and its students.

Rationally, I know that a lot of kind and well-mannered people go to State. Many of them were probably there on Saturday, wearing red and cheering for their team. But the ones who didn't behave so well stand out in my mind and, for a little while at least, change the way I think about their university.

Marian Crotty can be reached at mcrotty@email.unc.edu.

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