NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – A Saturday showcase of two great basketball games also put on display a trend that is troubling to some…fan behavior.
At an Old Dominion University men’s basketball game against the University of Texas-El Paso, two fans were escorted out of the game by police. One of them was asked to leave by ODU officials, the other by game officials.
“Saturday night, [was a] complete anomaly. There’s no other way to explain it,” says ODU Athletics Director Wood Selig. “[It was a] complete breakdown all over the place.”
The boys wearing black and white blew the whistle a whopping 52 times – 26 times on each squad – and called three technical fouls as well as a flagrant. Waves of boos rang all over the Ted Constant Center, and many of those boos became cheers for the gentleman being escorted out.
The incident involving the individual was minor. Selig does not know the exact line of communication between officials and game managers leading up to their decision, but felt there could have been more.
“A good official will give a warning to a fan, to a spectator, to someone sitting close to the action. I’m not sure that happened in our game,” said Selig.
At the same time in Lubbock, TX, Oklahoma State sophomore guard Marcus Smart shoved a fan who sat near the baseline in the last seconds of a game against Texas Tech. The fan who took the shove admitted later to calling Smart a “piece of crap.”
Depending on how much money he or she is willing to spend, a fan can sit wherever and however close to the court they want. That proximity to the action has sometimes been a problem for both player and spectator. While athletic conferences discourage and try to prohibit such action, shouting profanities or insults towards players and officials can ring louder.
“It’s not confined to sports,” says Selig, “Go to a movie, and what’s the language you’ll hear in a large number of movies? Turn on the radio, and what are the lyrics to songs these days? We’re not listening to Frank Sinatra and the Four Tops anymore.”
Selig made it clear he does not believe there is a problem with a majority of ODU’s fan base, adding he feels Monarch fans will cheer more for their own team than they will against another team or against an official. At the same time, he acknowledged most people are smart enough to recognize when they’ve taken a simple cheer or boo too far.
“There is a line we can all cross, and I think internally we all know what that line is.”