I’m not being forced to write this by anyone, so by “having to write this” I mean that I am compelled to do so by my own feelings. And after watching a few idiots throw debris onto the floor during West Virginia’s win on Wednesday, I have no choice but to call you out.
Your actions bring shame onto the name West Virginia University. Just what in the heck does throwing things on the court accomplish? If you don’t like a call, you can boo. That gets the same point across, and doesn’t endanger anyone on the floor – which is the second, more serious implication of your actions. Pitt assistant coach Tom Herrion was nearly hit in the eye by a coin thrown from the stands. An inch or so the other direction, and it could have put his eye out. How would that have felt to you? (I ask those questions rhetorically, because I am sure that the numbskull that threw it doesn’t care anything about others. His or her only thought was to…well, I don’t know what. I don’t know why anyone would endanger another person’s health without a good reason. And no, a bad call is not a good reason.)
Unfortunately, the throwing of things on the floor was only the worst of several other boorish actions by the WVU student section on the night. There were vulgar chants, which weren’t witty, or clever. There were shout outs during the National Anthem – a total disgrace. These only served to show the absolute stupidity of those that chose to participate in them. I certainly hope that you took videos of yourselves, and made them available for your parents for viewing – preferably next Christmas in front of your entire family. Hey, you’re entitled to say anything you want at any time you want – it’s a free country, right? So make sure you aunts, uncles, grandparents and younger siblings see you exercising your Constitutional rights to act like a completely mindless moron.
But you know something else? The throwers aren’t the only ones to blame. The people standing around you who didn’t report you to security or police get a share of it as well. There’s a difference between finking on someone for cutting a class (that only hurts you) and shielding the actions of someone that could easily bring harm to others. Why didn’t any of you turn your fellow perpetrators in? Yeah, I know – it’s not your job. Well, I hope your neighbor that sees someone breaking into your house and stealing all of your stuff uses the same excuse when asked why he didn’t call the police to report a prowler climbing in your window.
There’s also blame to be spread to the Mountaineer Maniacs, who, if they don’t encourage such behavior, do nothing to curtail it. In an Associated Press story, WVU student and Maniac member Jonathan Kimble was quoted as saying, “"Pitt is our rival so we'll probably be using a lot of colorful words against them." Nice. A member of organization that supposedly is in place to support the team openly discusses plans to embarrass the school and potentially hurt it.
Over the next few days, there will be several repercussions from this event. WVU has already apologized to Pitt for the actions of a few brainless people in attendance. Bob Huggins offered his to Herrion after the game. (And kudos to Pitt coach Jamie Dixon, who handled the affair with total class, refusing to paint all of WVU with the broad brush of shame that the actions of a few engendered. Although I am certainly no fan of the Panthers, I give him full credit and high marks for his post-game actions.) But will anything of substance happen? I don’t know, but maybe its time.
There has already been a good deal of debate about this at WVU, with reports of actions being taken, and then rescinded, in terms of student seating. Security will reportedly be increased, and the student section videotaped.
If that doesn't work, what's next? Maybe its time to move all of the students to the upper deck. Maybe it’s time to end giveaways, as those items sometimes end up being pitched back to the floor. Maybe its time to clear the student section entirely for a game or two, until the students can figure out that they have to do some self-policing. I don’t know if any of those things would be effective, but I do know that something has to be done.
I can hear all of the excuses already. ‘Don’t punish everyone for the actions of a few.” ‘It’s a free country, you can say what you want.’ ‘We’re just having some fun.’ 'We werne't the only ones throwing things.' Sorry, but none of those excuses apply here. Laws and rules mostly exist because of the actions of a few that violate the standards of human decency and behavior. Students that haven’t learned that yet need to now, or they’re going to be in for a shock when they get out in the real world. And all of the remedies proposed here should apply to everyone in attendance. If a donor that gives $50,000 per year is identified as a thrower, then he or she should be banned for life from attending WVU events as well. Is that realistic? Would WVU do it? I don't know, but I do know that it should.
As you can tell, I’m mostly mad about yet another hit on the reputation of my alma mater. I know that there is always a percentage of morons that don’t care what they do, that exist only to raise hell and see what they can get away with. The key is to not allow those lunatics to ruin things for the rest of us. So here’s a direct message. If you’re one of those people that threw things on Wednesday, do us all a favor and leave WVU. If you are a student, drop out. If you are just a “fan”, don't ever come back. Stop embarrassing those of us that care. You are a blight on our school, and you’re not welcome here.
For those that feel the need to chant vulgarities, check out some books from the library. Start with Oscar Wilde or Dorothy Parker, and learn how witty repartee is far more devastating than blunt force attacks. The rest of you, put a stop to those who are too stupid to learn. Tell them to cease. Drown out their classless chants. Do something, but don’t just stand there, or mindlessly join in. Stand up for what’s right. How are you going to feel if Da’Sean Butler slips on some ice that’s thrown on the floor and breaks an ankle and doesn’t get to finish his career? Or if the technical you allowed to be called because you didn’t point out the delinquent standing next to you costs WVU a game? That thrower probably wouldn’t care, but would you?
I don’t think that messages from the administration, or Bob Huggins, or even the players on the floor is going to stop the throwing and the obscenities. It’s up to you, the rank and file. Are you going to do something? Or will it take a player or coach getting a serious injury to make it sink in? At some high schools, games are played without fans, in front of empty gyms, due to issues just such as this. Maybe that’s what will be required to finally get the message across.