In the world of college basketball, March Madness is almost here, which means a month of exciting games, intense rivalries and rowdy fan behavior.
The one school that takes the cake in the "rowdy fan behavior" department is the University of Maryland. U-Md. fans are notorious for screaming obscenities at games, starting riots no matter the outcome of the game and viciously taunting opponents. Some of these things are not out of the ordinary (how can games be fun if you can't boo your opponent or at least cheer for your team?), but Maryland fans have been known to take it to the extreme.
During last year's season, fans took a lot of flak for wearing T-shirts that said "[Expletive] Duke" and shouting so many curses during a game with their much-hated rival that ESPN accidentally broadcast some of the chanting and the obscene T-shirts. Students called it "free speech." Other people had different ideas. "It used to be that students dropped the F-bomb on the Vietnam War, the draft and napalm," wrote Washington Post sports columnist Sally Jenkins in an article. "Now they drop it on Duke."
After that article was published, Maryland began focusing on cleaning up fan language and behavior. At recent games, officials have tried to get students to swap obscene t-shirts for appropriate ones that still broadcast the fan's love of Maryland. Coach Gary Williams has begun writing to Maryland's newspaper, The Diamondback, to ask fans to keep it clean while at games.
But what about what happens after the game?
There we run into a little dilemma. Maryland fans don't have the cleanest record when it comes to post-game celebrations. In fact, they're downright awful. Win or lose, it seems to make no difference; either way, there will be a huge riot.
"They win, they set fires. It makes no sense," a worker in College Park was reported as saying after Maryland's win against Duke on February 13. In the last Maryland riot, at least 15 people were arrested after a crowd of about 3,000 kids tramped down Route 1, setting fires and throwing trash. Rioting got so bad in 2002 that Maryland created a rule that allows for some students to be expelled if they commit extreme acts of vandalism and violence after the games.
"There are students who go to great basketball schools all over the country who manage to get a buzz on and be outrageous without crossing the line that everyone recognizes as civility," Jenkins wrote of Maryland's frequent rioting.
Certainly, a win against a bitter rival and higher-ranked team is cause for celebration, but rioting? Usually, lighting trashcans on fire and overturning objects in the street is not a sign of happiness. That kind of behavior brings to mind rebellion; each game, it's almost as if fans had just been told Maryland was forced to forfeit to Duke.
Maryland fans are notoriously poor sports when it comes to Duke. Last year, some fans somehow obtained Duke guard J.J. Redick's cellphone number and began passing it around the campus. Soon, Redick was receiving an exorbitant number of calls from Maryland fans, causing him to change his number. This year, Redick's new cellphone number and home phone number somehow got out, and his parents began getting phone calls from crazy fans from all over the country (not just a few from Maryland). How utterly hilarious. Since Redick was quick to change his number again, it would be a great idea to harass his parents.
That's not to say that Duke is any better. The Cameron Crazies, a group of fanatical Dukies named for Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadium, would give Maryland fans a run for their money. They taunt and jeer just as much as Maryland fans. However, they are not known, as Maryland is, for their deranged uprisings after games and destructive behavior. It's sad to think that while establishing itself as a strong academic school with great basketball, Maryland is also developing a reputation for bad fan behavior.
Fans should think twice before engaging in such antics during the college basketball season. Not only are they pointless (though some students may disagree), but they send a terrible message around the country about the University of Maryland, as well as cause thousands of dollars in damages around the campus.
Maryland fans should be mindful of the message they're sending about their school. In fact, there's one area where they should not beat Duke: unruly behavior.
Grace Harter. Grace Harter is currently a CAP senior at Blair. She loves anything British, books, music, movies and of course Silver Chips Online. She'd like to close with a quote from "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" that is especially profound (and makes reference to her ultimate favorite … More »