Fan Behavior

by Seth Greenberg (ESPN)
Fan Behavior

This column was written when Seth Greenberg was the head coach at Virginia Tech.

Some time ago I was interviewed for a feature in “Time Out,” which is published by the National Association of Basketball Coaches. The topic was fan behavior.

While this topic may not always be front-and-center in the mainstream media, it continues to be a widely discussed issue among coaches. It’s also a topic that has as many sub plots as there are coaches working in the profession.

As coaches we all encourage our fan base to come out and lend its support to our respective teams. We will work hard to put a great product on the field of play and we want the community to embrace us.

The fan-school relationship is one of the things that make college athletics so great. By in large ‘game day’ is an uneventful event. Translation -- everyone enjoys the experience and it unfolds without an incidents.

Unfortunately that is not always the case.

Whether it’s recognized or not, the fact is that the line between fan and fanatic is often blurred. Some time ago the simple clapping and supporting of one’s team gravitated to booing and jeering. For the most the part that was okay, but somewhere along the line the hollering and yelling got ugly.

On some levels it almost seems like a competition of sorts. How can one fan outdo the other? One outrageous act or comment is met with another seemingly more repulsive act or remark.

This isn’t about being the best fan. That line has been crossed.

It goes without say that racial remarks and comments of a personal nature are going too far. But it’s not only the person targeted by the fan that suffers. How about all those fans who simply want to attend the game? They are caught in the crossfire.

Recently I heard a story of a how a young fan who pleaded with her father to leave the game they were attending because the fans seated behind them were so obnoxious. The stupidity lasted for the entire game.

When you go to the arena, ballpark or stadium you know -- that to some degree -- you will have to endure a few idiots. But does those idiots have the right to ruin the experience for others? Did they buy that right when they purchased their ticket?

Of course not, but that doesn’t seem to keep them from preaching their moronic sermon, as if to impress all those seated around them.

Again, the majority of fans are respectful when attending the game, but it does seem that there are more unruly fans today then there were just ten years ago.

For whatever reason some think because they are fans that it somehow gives them the right to do as they please. That type of behavior just cannot be tolerated.

So what can be done?

As I noted in my opening, this is a topic that has as many sub plots as there are coaches working in the profession. I would hope that some of my peers would voice their thoughts, share their experiences and offer some ideas that we can all benefit from.

The college athletic experience is one that should be enjoyed by all. Even one bad fan is too many.