Sunday, October 18, 2009

Attention: UMD Students

The UMD Bulldogs have played five home games so far. One of them didn't count, and UMD is 3-1 in the games that did count.

So far, the DECC has been populated by generally less-than-capacity crowds (Saturday being an exception), but the student section has been a notable exception. Students have been flocking to the games in huge numbers so far, and it's added a bit of zest to a building that is too often way too quiet for a hockey game.

This is generally a good thing. Ever since the UMD student section was organized and revitalized not long before the team's magical 2004 Frozen Four run, fans who attend games in Duluth have been treated to one of the WCHA's more enjoyable and clever groups of student fans.

When the section had its most momentum, they also kept it clean. You didn't have to blush when you thought about players' parents attending games, or recruits and their families, and you weren't on the verge of leaving your kids at home. There were no vulgar chants, partly because the leaders kept in touch with people at UMD and made sure their desires were met.

Obviously, things have changed. There are new leaders to the section now, and they apparently haven't spent as much time talking with people from UMD.

How do I know this?

Well, as the Bulldogs were polishing off British Columbia in their exhibition Oct. 3, you heard students chanting "(Bleep) the Canadians!" at the visitors. Well, I hope it was at the visitors. I guess I don't know for sure, since UMD has a roster of 26 players that includes seven from north of the border. Maybe the students don't like UMD's Canadian players, or maybe they wanted to make UMD's Canadian players feel weird.

An active student section is a good thing. A student section that chooses to be vulgar is not.

Vulgar is not funny. Adding F bombs and homophobic words to your chants will not make people laugh. Instead, they'll take notice for the wrong reasons.

As a radio person, I shouldn't have to turn the volume of the crowd mic down out of fear for what the students will chant next. Nor should I have to.

As a parent, I shouldn't be fearful of taking my seven-year-old to a game so he doesn't have to ask mid-game what a "purple faggot" is.

People who are putting these chants together need to think of a few things.

For starters, there are a lot of kids who attend the games. You want this, because the kids are the ones who we need to get into hockey. Even if they're just going to be devoted fans of the game, there's no question we need them.

Parents don't like their kids being exposed to hundreds of people chanting words like "faggot" or "pussy" at the opposing team. It leads to a lot of undesirable questions at hockey games when the toughest question a kid has to ask should be something like "What is a hand pass?".

Speaking of parents, not only are there parents of young kids at the games, but there are also parents and other family members of UMD players on hand. Let's not offend them, because it just doesn't seem like a good idea.

UMD administrators, who have every right to revoke your tickets, attend games.

Oh, and even more important for the future of UMD hockey would be the presence of recruits and their families at games. If you don't think that the atmosphere in a building matters, you're wrong.

In the end, the student presence at the DECC is a welcome thing. Much of the time, they add some serious fun to the place when it can otherwise be quite dull. But as the transition to the new building gets going, the last thing UMD and its students need is for the section to become like so many others in college sports.

If you want to be like St. Cloud's student section, try going there.

1 comment:

just another bulldog fan said...

Thank you!