If you watched last Saturday's West Virginia-Ohio State game -- and I hope you did, because it was a pretty fantastic game -- you probably heard some naughty words emanating from your TV set. Those were West Virginia's student fans. Those students were fired up, so much so they decided it was OK to use a nationally televised close-up to chant at the referees on marginal calls that went the other way. They also chanted at OSU guard Evan Turner who, far as I could tell from the broadcast, hadn't done any real J.J. Redick-esque crowd-provoking to deserve the abuse.
I'm not one to get all high and mighty about swear words. Whatever, right? Parents get really angry about swear words in mass media, but seem to care less about violence. Which, I don't know. Which is worse, right? If I'm interested in sheltering my child, I'm keeping him away from things that look cool when they blow up rather than words that sound cool when spoken. (And let's be real: A good swearer gets the most out of four letters. It's an art, really.)
That doesn't mean they're OK to chant at opposing players, though. That's not very nice. Maybe even worse, it's boring and uninspired. You're college students. You really can't come up with something better than "eff you?" That's the extent of your creativity? That's sad.
Even if their motives differ, West Virginia administrators agree. After urging by the mayor of Morgantown -- yes, the mayor got involved -- Ken Gray, WVU's vice president of student affairs, sent a letter to the student body. A short summary? Quit the naughty language. A key passage:
Let’s follow the example of our players and show fans nationwide what it means to be a Mountaineer and part of the Big East. Remember your behavior over shadows the good behavior of our players on the court. As Mountaineer fans, you are representing our players, coaches, WVU, and the entire state of West Virginia.
This is a pretty fair observation, and one any supporter of the team might consider: No one could talk about WVU's win over Ohio State without at least mentioning the rowdy fans, and not in a good, "boy those kids sure love their Mountaineers" sort of way. Pretty much everyone was turned off. Meanwhile, West Virginia is a potential Final Four team that beat one of the best players in the country in a rousing comeback win on their home floor. And look what we're talking about. Wouldn't WVU fans prefer Devin Ebanks got this attention?