Crowd behaviour must be addressed

As Queen’s 2013-14 athletic year draws to a close, the Journal’s sports team reflects on pressing issues — and what actions should be taken

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You wouldn’t scream obscenities at a person on the street, so what makes it acceptable to do it to someone wearing another school’s jersey?

This is a problem we’ve been seeing in the stands at Queen’s games and university sports in general over the last few years. There’s a point when school spirit crosses into abusive territory.

The line is crossed when the crowd starts calling someone the c-word or threatening their mother with rape, just because they play for the other team.

Those are just some of the things I’ve heard in the stands or from other schools’ athletes. And it’s not just one or two individuals doing these sorts of things, either. Queen’s has one of the most abusive crowds I’ve seen at a sporting event.

Think for a second about how this reflects on Queen’s. When we attend games, we are representatives of the school, so when you act like a fool at a game, you’re making the university look awful.

Yet Queen’s isn’t the only school with this problem. It’s become a serious epidemic at the university level.

At a road game I attended this year, Queen’s athletes were berated and harassed by the other team’s students. In all my years of going to games, it was the worst crowd I had ever seen.

In this case, it was made worse because the students in question were members of the home school’s varsity teams. They used the treatment they received at Queen’s games to justify their actions.

It’s completely unfair to the athletes. As their peers, a large part of the responsibility for putting a stop to this behaviour falls on our shoulders.

It’s not easy to change, as abusing the other team has become ingrained in our sporting culture. Better judgment has to be exercised by spectators to ensure they’re cheering on their school, not attacking another person.

Part of what makes university sports so amazing is that the athletes are our peers — even the ones on the opposing team. That football player you just yelled at might have a sister at Queen’s. That hockey player you just called something unprintable went to your high school.

Think about that next time you’re leaning over the railings, yelling at someone.

If students refuse to stop, administrators will have to step in and do something.

Events staff should monitor the crowd to make sure students are crossing the line, and that those who do are escorted from the event. If someone gets kicked out of more than one game in a school year, give them a ban.

At the end of the day, we should know better. This harassment needs to stop.

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