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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas WiertellaApril 30, 2024

Fan behavior issues must be dealt with

Fan behavior has been a growing problem for several decades now. It isn’t really surprising anymore when I turn on ESPN and watch a story about how some family with two young kids was harassed by a group of drunk hooligans after attending a sporting event.

Living in the Upper Peninsula gives the people here a unique flavor in the world of sports as fans wear the colors of teams from all over the Midwest region.

What makes it so interesting is that it can generally be broken down into four major areas from where most people represent their favorite teams: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Chicago and Detroit.

What do these areas all have in common? First of all, they all have at least three major professional sporting clubs.

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Secondly, the clubs that reside in these areas are all rivals with one another.

On top of all that, all of them can typically be found in the same divisions in their respective sports. Rivals such as the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks, the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings, and the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers are all constantly hating each other every season.

So with the hatred between players of the those teams comes the hatred between the fans. I grew up in the Lower Peninsula of Michigan and was raised to love the Detroit teams.

More specifically, I was raised to be a Lion’s fan. I love all of the Detroit teams, but the Lions are my passion.

When I moved to Marquette, I thought I knew what I was getting myself into.

I was aware of the amount of Green Bay Packer fans that lived in the area, but not even in a million years I would have thought of the amount of harassment I would actually deal with up here.

It even came to the point where I couldn’t wear Detroit Lions’ apparel on campus without having people seriously perturb me.

As a sports writer and broadcaster, I do my very best to stay as objective as possible and try not to let bias control my work.

While this style of attitude may be respected and admired in the line of work, it also makes it very difficult to defend a losing franchise.

The Lions have been a struggling team for basically my entire life and in that amount of time, have very few accolades to show. When you throw a losing franchise into the mix it can become even more volatile.

So to really sum up the issue: It ain’t easy being green.

Thinking of the harassment I face as Lion fan living in Packer nation leads me to believe that fan behavior is growing to become a major problem in professional sports.

My own personal issue always seems to be so insignificant when players from rival teams receive death threats to the individual or their families on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter along with similar comments made to contributing sports writers who work for ESPN.

This type of poor behavior is nothing new, in fact, it has been traced all the way back to the days of the Roman Coliseum.

The behaviors may not have changed, but the ability to change the behaviors has, whether we decide to do it ourselves or not.

However, I think we should begin to hold ourselves accountable for the boorish behavior we act upon other fans.

It is clear that poor behavior will be taken very seriously in the upcoming years of sports. Not just at the professional level, mind you, but at the collegiate level as well.

To say that Northern’s very own group of hockey fanatics, known as “The Puck Heads,” hasn’t been noticed for some questionable in-game chants is a bit of stretch.

Granted, I acknowledge the fact that no real action has been taken by the university against the group and that it is next to impossible to say that any real crime has been committed.

Regardless, after seeing little change in the appropriateness of the chants, I can say personally that I am hesitant to bring my future family to Wildcat hockey games and, if I do, I think I will sit on the other side of the arena.

Unfortunately, I am not the first or last person to come to this conclusion.

When it comes to harassment in sports, I believe people are starting to feel more and more anonymous.

Whether they are sitting in the bleachers, blended in with a large crowd or behind the screen of their laptop.

I have no issue debating sports with people nor do I mind talking a little cordial smack with friends, but to think of taking it the next step and verbally attacking someone just because of the color of their jersey is downright unacceptable.

Another element that occasionally factors in is the consumption of alcohol. It is easy to imagine fans feeling the need to either let out their frustration or build up the courage to pester rival foes in the stands after having a few too many beers at the ball game.

I am not against serving alcohol at professional sporting events at all, but I do believe that if you are really going to spend eight dollars on a single draft, you might as well enjoy it in moderation.

The social responsibility of a fan’s behavior and the expectations of civility should be no different than what you should expect from people in regular life. It’s time for fans to show a little maturity and respect for one another.

I am not asking fans to stay perfectly objective in sports, because cheering in support of your favorite team and cheering against your bitter rivals is what makes professional sports what they were meant to be.

They are factions we join, support and love. It is truly sad when we have to remind fans to behave like human beings.

Sports are not a special exception to the rules of behavior nor are they even a grey area.

So go ahead, root for your favorite team and wear their colors with pride.

You can even boo your rivals and make up fun chants if you want, but it’s time for us, as adults, to show respect to others and let everyone enjoy the games.

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