Fandom and reason are two parallel roads. They never cross, and usually move in opposite directions.
On Nov. 16, as I sat courtside on press row at Belmont’s game against the University of Tennessee, I almost had to cover my ears after a charge was called on the Vols. A resounding, thunderous, extended “boo” was by far the loudest “cheer” of the game.
Not to mention that the Belmont player was in perfectly proper charge position: two feet planted, no lean in sight.
Yet, the orange-clad army was relentless. The ref who made the call had black, spiky hair—inciting one UT supporter to dub him “Jersey Boy.” Fortunately, no Snooki references were made.
When the dust cleared after a dramatic Belmont comeback, 60 total fouls had been called. With 36.6 seconds left in the game, both teams had been whistled exactly 28 times. While the number was certainly incessant, did every call against the Vols deserve to be treated like an Obama speech in a red state?
UT really shouldn’t be singled out, though. This anti-foul sentiment is prevalent across Hoops Nation. If the same situation played out in any gym across the country, boos would remain.
If only fans could be a little more reasonable. Be honest with yourself, Fan. Your team is going to commit fouls and when they do, it’s not the end of the world. Jon Stewart’s next rally should be for sports fans.
Not only would some reason be nice, but how about a little sympathy? Being a ref is not an easy job. The players move so fast and quick, it’s tough to know what you see. Just be glad that replay technology is now widespread across all sports, so that refs can’t mess up calls of great magnitude.
Perhaps this vicious sense of fandom has more to do with a widespread American belief of self-centeredness. In a world where USC students sat idly while Bill Nye the Science Guy fainted during a lecture, maybe some good hearty booing isn’t all that bad. Maybe this isn’t a criticism—just an observation.
Now back to UT. It could be argued that the Vols won the game against Belmont on free throws. They uncharacteristically shot well from the charity stripe, making 32-of-40 attempts. Belmont was 17-of-28.
As the referees quickly made an exit from the arena after the Vols’ win, one last parting shot was fired.
“Go back to Jersey, Jersey Boy!” the same fan yelled.
Was that really necessary?
Pierce Greenberg, sports editor, is a senior majoring in journalism.