Baylor has a new coach, a new quarterback and a new season all set to debut on Saturday, but many fans are simply excited for the highly anticipated return of Baylor football. Win or lose, rain or shine, there’s nothing quite like cheering on your home team in the beautiful McLane Stadium.
But amid the shouts of “Sic ‘em” and the smell of freshly-baked pretzels, fans should keep in mind that along with supporting their team, it’s also important to promote good sportsmanship from the stands.
It’s all great to be immersed in the competition and community of a football game, but there is a line between passion for your own team and disrespect for the opponent which can easily be crossed.
Shouting insulting or even crude phrases to divert the other team’s attention during the game does not foster good sportsmanship. While it may all just be “part of the game,” this is actually incredibly spiteful.
Don’t misunderstand us, we’re not saying that you shouldn’t be loud and proud to be a Bear and to wear your green and gold. As a university that prides itself on our Christian mission, we are setting ourselves to a higher standard, and those standards don’t end when we cross over the Brazos.
Student sections at schools around the country often take it upon themselves to distract the other team using whatever means possible. According to the New York Times, students at Arizona State University even went so far as to stage a five-second act directly behind the hoop at basketball games when the opposing team went to make a free-throw. This tactic is referred to as the “Curtain of Distraction.”
While Baylor has not gone to such extreme lengths, no fans are exempt from the discussion as to where the line is drawn between harmless applause and hateful expression. Cheering for your team is one thing, but being rude toward the other team and their fans through words and actions is unacceptable.
While the other team may not have as good a record, it is imperative to remember that the young men that have suited up on that field have put an incalculable amount of hours into readying themselves for these games, regardless of what color jersey they wear. Our opponents deserve as much respect from us as our own team does, whether they’re from Lynchburg, Va. or Fort Worth.
As Baylor strives to uphold its Christian principles in and out of the classroom and on and off the field, perhaps we as an institution can set an example for other universities and demonstrate that there is indeed a difference between building your team up and tearing the other team down.
This Saturday, as you’re sipping your McAlister’s iced tea and chanting in time with the Baylor Golden Wave band, keep in mind that the other team and their fans are just as happy to be here as you are, and they not only deserve to be here, but they deserve your respect.