Letter to the Editor: Debate rages on over ‘appropriate’ hockey chants

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By Letter to the Editor

What do “you suck” and “see ya asshole” have in common? Run-of-the mill adolescent jabbing? Something you’d say after you get dumped? You’d be right on both counts, but neither is the answer I’m looking for. No. What I am getting at is that these relatively harmless expressions are sufficient grounds for you to get kicked out of a Union College hockey game.

Now, I recognize that the circumstance of the phrase is important. For example, if a professor wrote “you suck” on the top of an exam, I would probably leave class crying. However, if an opponent in intramural broomball said that same thing, I would probably be pissed off in a motivated way.  Similarly, if a friend said “see ya asshole” passing by in a hallway of S&E, I would think nothing of it; however, if a Dean said that at the conclusion of a meeting, I would be hurt.

There is a time and a place for everything; I understand that.  What I don’t understand is why the school believes that a D-I college hockey game isn’t a time and Messa Rink not a place for such phrases?

The only decent argument I can think of is sportsmanship.  And I agree, this is a reasonable argument. I want to represent Union in the most favorable light possible at all times, including at our hockey games. But from what I have noticed, giving students the boot for chanting these particular phrases isn’t about sportsmanship at all. It’s about language!

Language? Really? I know what you’re thinking… but we are college students, this is just the way we communicate with one another. I know, it’s silly. But why else would chanting “you suck” have Campus Safety officers all over you, but chanting “it’s all your fault” leaves them chuckling.  I don’t see the difference, do you?

Let’s take it a step further.  Two weeks ago I was at a game and a student was threatened for chanting negative slurs. In response he started yelling things like “the goalie bakes good cupcakes” and other nonsense.  Does that really make Union students look any friendlier? Any smarter? Any more respectful? I think not, and I doubt it does to the players on the opposing team either.  After all, heckling is heckling and a distraction is a distraction.

The next logical response is: OK, it’s not about sportsmanship after all, but there are frequently young children at games, so we should really keep our language G-rated.  F*** that!  There is only one type of sports event where it is socially acceptable to scream and yell the whole time, and that is at a college game.  Why take that away from us? We only have four years to enjoy it.

If little kids want to see a hockey game but their parents don’t want them exposed to the “vulgar” and “rowdy” college kids, I will be so kind as to provide a solution.   We are conveniently located 28 minutes (according to mapquest.com) from the Times Union Center, home of the Albany Devils – go support them.

I assure you, I’m really not that heartless of a guy.  I love seeing the young ones at our game having wild times, but not at the expense of my own college experience and my own memories.

Finally, let me readdress the issue of sportsmanship because I really do believe that this is the reason Campus Safety has begun kicking kids out for continuing the tradition of harassing chants.  These chants are NOT unsportsmanlike.

Firstly, other schools do it.  Now I am not using the ‘if they can do it so can we’ excuse.  I’m just saying, every other school recognizes that fan-generated harassment is part of the college hockey culture and that it isn’t unsportsmanlike.

Secondly, we are college students, so are the opposing players.  They expect it.  They might even thrive on it. Isn’t it our job as Union students, with pride in our school, to generate as much energy as we can? And there is only so much energy we can generate screaming “Let’s go Union. Clap. Clap. Clap-Clap-Clap.” We have a duty to rip on the other team a little bit.  As I said before, there is only one place and one time when the cheers we do are appropriate for the circumstance, and that is at a college sporting event.

Now let me be clear.  I don’t want a student getting kicked out of next week’s game for saying asshole.  And I don’t want a student getting kicked out of the game for saying cupcake.  No.  Either the entire student section gets kicked out because you know we all said asshole or the entire student section chants as we have for at least the last three years (since I have been here).

We, as students, are only trying to maximize on the unique opportunities college provides and trying to give our beloved Dutchmen a little extra energy to feed off of.

 

MBC, Class of 2012

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