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The Daily Tar Heel

Revelry dampened

Lack of preparation by CAA and Athletics Department officials left some students on the outside looking in on a memorable upset victory.

The UNC football team has taken the field against N.C. State many times since the teams first played in 1894, but the last-minute 30-24 win for the Tar Heels last Saturday was one that fans of both teams will remember for years to come.

That said, the total lack of preparation for accommodating the incredible student turnout, the asinine decision to stop students from entering the field safely once the game was won, and the appalling fan reaction while an N.C. State player lay injured on the field demonstrated that the University has plenty of soul-searching to do in the coming weeks.

For some big games - Florida State, for example - an organized ticket distribution generally has been held to ease the human traffic and lessen confusion at the gates. The last time UNC played N.C. State at home, that distribution system was still in place.

But Saturday's match was treated the same way as the contest against William & Mary: students were allowed to swipe their UNC ONE Cards to gain entry to the stadium - first come, first served.

That just didn't work.

There was standing room only in the student section, and the lines outside caused some to miss the game entirely.

Student Body President Matt Calabria managed to get a few more students through the gates by persuading University officials to open up remaining seats in the chancellor's box. But that swift thinking on Calabria's part did little to mask an egregious problem.

The Carolina Athletic Association has few significant responsibilities, but among these is the charge to assist in the creation of ticket distribution policies that maximize the potential for students to enjoy games. In that, on Saturday, they failed.

Last year, Clint Gwaltney, the assistant athletics director for the Smith Center and ticket operations, told The Daily Tar Heel, "We take (ticket distribution) on a game-by-game situation." If Saturday's game wasn't the right occasion for organized ticket distribution, what game ever will be? Just because an opponent isn't a perennial contender for a national title does not mean a game is not a big event. In fact, Tobacco Road rivalries probably hold more appeal for the average student than games against newer rivals that happen to be ranked in the top 25.

Secondly, the decision made by athletic officials to keep the field's gates closed after the game was senseless. The team won a big game against a big rival, and the students who cheered so passionately during the game were going to rush the field. Security should have realized this and allowed students onto the field in a way that ensured their safety. Instead, they assumed a Terminator pose and locked the gates, yelling loudly at the students who protested.

Not only was this a dim way to deal with energized fans, it was downright inconsiderate, given the record of our football team.

Watching a win against N.C. State is like hearing Chancellor Moeser announce a tuition refund - just as unlikely and just as exciting. When something that big happens on game day, students are going to make for the field, and the only thing security managed to do was to create a situation that caused the hedges lining the field to be destroyed and students to suffer unnecessary bumps and bruises.

Lastly, our fans should have had better etiquette. Having a ticket or a ONE Card does not give fans the right to disparage the opposing team to the point of offensiveness.

Booing when one of State's players went down spoke ill of our students and our school. There's room for a little good-natured trash talking, but at some point, a line needs to be drawn. Be rowdy, and cheer as much as possible - but have civility come first. Good sportsmanship matters just as much as the final score when time expires.

Friend, that's the difference between culture and agriculture.

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