I’ve never been to a UW Madison football game, so I can’t claim any firsthand knowledge of the infamously obscene chanting that emanates from the student section every game. But I did confirm that (of course) it took place at Saturday’s game against Brigham Young University, and if the UW students are incapable of embarrassing themselves in front of visitors from that school, they’re clearly unlikely to ever stop this on their own.
As I noted last month when I vented about the ongoing controversy surrounding the NFL franchise in Washington, D.C., we’re in an era where significant numbers of people are just incapable of embarrassment. Actually, in the case of the UW chanters, most probably relish their lack of what used to be called decorum, and no mere scolding from the media or the powers that be are going to put an end to their brew-fueled fun. If anything, that just heightens the enjoyment of being so naughty.
My wife and I had a great time attending the home opener for the Badger Women’s basketball team against Drake on Sunday at the Kohl Center. I can’t imagine the good sportsmanship displayed there being disrupted by students chanting the ‘f-bomb’. So why is it okay at Camp Randall?
Wisconsin State Journal columnist Chris Rickert noted in his column on Saturday that fan behavior in general has “loosened up” over the years. “There was a time when men dressed in suits to go to baseball games,” he writes. That’s true, but that same era of suit wearing fans saw players like Jackie Robinson and Hank Greenberg targeted for the vilest imaginable abuse from the stands. We’d never stand for that today, and the behavior of the Wisconsin students doesn’t rise to that level of offensiveness. But there doesn’t need to be any debate about whether or not it is offensive. Embarrassing though? What’s embarrassing for officials with the university and the taxpayers who help support it is more of a badge of honor for the students. Good luck changing that attitude.