GOODMAN: Student section priorities misplaced

Goodman_WEBFour years ago, I stepped onto Marquette’s campus for the first time. In addition to going on tour, my family bought discounted basketball tickets to see the men’s team play against Syracuse.

Our seats were located in section 400-something, and we were the only people in earshot, but it was my first college basketball experience, and it was awesome.

As I watched the student section across the arena I remember turning to my mom and saying, “This is it … I want to be a Golden Eagle in that student section.”

The following November, I attended my first men’s basketball game as a student. We arrived early enough to sit in the lower bowl, and it was the first time I began to understand what “We Are Marquette” truly means.

It all seemed like a dream come true … someone puked on me.

The culprit was standing a row behind me and was so intoxicated he didn’t even acknowledge that his vomit was now on the hem of my shirt and running down the step to my shoes.

Instances like this aren’t rare at games. There are those who come to watch the game and cheer the team to victory, and there are many more who pre-game for hours, show up intoxicated, fall down the steps and get the most pleasure out of yelling at the refs and opposing players.

Last week, we all received an email from Athletic Director Larry Williams addressing offensive language and verbal abuse at the men’s games. Williams specifically referenced the “Hey” song that is played at the end of the second half. He warned that if students continue to chant “Hey, you suck!” during that song, the band would no longer play it.

A day later, the team played DePaul, Williams’ message was disregarded and the same language was used.

See ya later, “Hey” song.

I fully understand the frustrations when it comes to restrictions like this. We see our best buddies in Madison repeatedly get warned for their “Eat S***, F*** You” chant during football games, yet no real reprimand ever comes from it. We also saw them exhibit some true class toward the University of Michigan’s Trey Burke this past weekend by chanting something too inappropriate for this column when he was shooting free throws.

Yes, the Badgers may have pulled out the win, but that cheer should erase some pride they may have gained from the victory.

I get it. College kids will be college kids, and at times it may seem like Marquette treats us like children. We have strict alcohol policies. We have to live in the residence halls for two years. And now we’re not even supposed to say the word “suck” at basketball games.

But instead of looking at it as if we’re being belittled, think about it as simply falling in line with what Marquette prides itself upon – holding its students to a higher standard.

We all knew upon applying that this is a Jesuit Catholic institution. We also knew that it was a school without college football, and thus the intimate atmosphere of college hoops would have to do.

We knew that Marquette’s call to its students is to be the difference. And with that, we have much bigger things to worry about as fans than being able to say, “Hey, you suck!” to another team.

There are some home games when the lower bowl isn’t even full – you can stroll in 15 minutes late and still get a good seat. A noticeable difference exists between the lower bowl and upper deck. Mostly everyone stands and is engaged in the lower bowl, whereas the upper deck is a drunken mess, to put it bluntly. Even at that, some students in attendance are just interested in adding to their Facebook photo albums.

Unless there is a buzzer beater or it’s right before tip, the loudest the student section gets is when a referee makes a poor call or a player on the opposing team fouls out. As soon as our players start playing poorly, we degrade them on social media and trash talk their GPAs or behavior off the court. The players instantly go from celebrity status to infamous.

Our student section has about five faces to it, and the rest of us don’t exist.

I’m the first to admit that I’m not the best fan in the world – in fact, I’m incredibly far from it. Maybe it’s because of that first experience I had, or maybe it’s just because I’m sick of seeing sloppy drunk people at games. Whatever it is, the team deserves a better fan out of me than what I’ve been.

The team and university also deserve a better student section, though.

So here is my challenge to you, Marquette students: Instead of bashing the players on social media, remember that they’re likely doing something on the court that you could never do, and admire them for it. Instead of rolling in 10 minutes late and intoxicated, come to the game sober … you might find it more enjoyable. And instead of being angry because you can’t say a certain cheer, yell “I believe that we can win” like you actually mean it.

Just as the guys have to be the difference on the court, we have to do the same in the stands. And until we can do that, we don’t deserve to be the Naismith Student Section of the Year.

Brooke Goodman is a senior studying journalism and political science. Emailbrooke.goodman@marquette.edu with anything you’d like her to write about. 

  • Ed

    I agree with you that there is no place for bashing student athletes
    on social media, but I disagree with pretty much everything else you say.

    To characerize the entire upper deck as a “drunken mess” is an immature exaggeration. Banning students from saying “you suck” is awful; one can say you suck in a PG movie. It is part of the sporting event, trash talk. It is not malicious. And it is intertwined with a fight song, not just a blatant verbal barrage of “you suck”. The administration needs to tone it down(including the alcohol fines in the dorms) or they risk scaring away potential students who attend Marquette based upon its reputation as a university with solid academics but also where the students know how to have a good time. Those who fail to acknowledge the substantial percentage of students who attend Marquette at least partly on its basis as decent party school are naive and overestimate Marquette’s academic reputation.

    And of course we see students get away with saying whatever they want in
    Madison, what is your point? It is a huge university with thousands of drunks screaming loudly at their sporting events. I attended a football game and basketball game there wearing opposing colors. I was harassed terribly! The environment in the student sections of UW and Marquette is really not comparable. Furthermore, there is a big difference between “you suck” and “eat
    s****, f*** you”. The former is far more profane and I agree that it would be an unacceptable student section chant.

    Your employment of the “we hold ourselves to a higher standard” explanation sounds like I’m talking to the Dean. I think Marquette students do a better than average job treating people with dignity, but is the “you suck” cheer really a violation of this so called “higher standard tenet?” I don’t think so.

    I was in the upper deck for all the games I attended, and the deck stood for the big ones. Syracuse 2011, Wisconsin 2008 and 2010, Uconn 2009, Pitt 2012 Cincy 2012, Georgetown 2009 and 2012. These are the memorable big games where the entire BC was rocking, upper deck included. I know there were also plenty of games where students in the upper deck sat. These were less competitive games. Students still cheered and rooted for Marquette, not with as much vigor as when it was a big game though. I don’t see that changing though- it seems to be the nature of the students here and frankly I am okay with it. We are not Duke or North Carolina where everyone has to stand the whole time and scream, and I doubt we ever will be.

    So I’m not sure if your coloum is a call to action to inspire students to be louder during games against lesser opponents, or just to call out students who drink and enjoy the game from the upper rafters?

  • ML

    Sounds like a PARTY POOPER

  • ML

    Sounds like a PARTY POOPER

  • D-JAE-O

    How is it the Student Section’s fault in regards to the “Hey, You” song… The band and spirit squad know exactly what they’re doing. Without the “Suck” the rest doesn’t make any sense at all. The AD should be talking to them, not the Student Section.
    Go Warriors!