The start of the 2015 college football season is officially here! Campuses across America are swarming with students, faculty, and alumni that cannot wait until kickoff. A major storyline throughout the Big 12 Conference revolves around quarterback play. Who’s going to start and who’s going to get playing time? In Manhattan, KS, the headlines are dominated with the anointing of Jesse Ertz as the starting QB for Saturday’s 6:00PM kickoff versus South Dakota. Great, awesome, but Ertz will likely be one of THREE QB’s to see time in Saturday’s game. We’ll know more about Ertz and the K-State QB situation towards the end of this month.
Whether K-State’s starting or playing Joe Hubener, Alex Delton, or Jesse Ertz is not what’s got me all hot and bothered rolling into this weekend. The headline, albeit hidden, that caught my eye and fired me up was this: Kansas State asks students to sign sportsmanship pledge before they pick up their tickets. Before I go any further, I have to confess that I’m a glutton for good sportsmanship and acting respectful at sporting events. Heck, my full time profession is dedicated to guiding youth on how to behave, learn, and handle adverse situations appropriately. I support good sportsmanship, and push for it publically at K-State events.
The signing of sportsmanship contracts by students at K-State is the first of its kind in the Big 12. To me, it’s overkill. The idea, proposed by Athletic Director John Currie and a team of committees (See middle of the letter) most certainly stems from the court storming in Bramlage Coliseum after the Kansas game last year. That court storming drew national attention, yet again, and yielded the potential legal prosecution of a K-State student! I’m not kidding, a kid was nearly punished by law for bumping into Jamari Traylor.
Look, events like this happen all the time across college athletics. Heck, the professional game sees actions and events similar to what K-State’s experienced in the past decade. Let’s not forget that there’s been riots in Manhattan after games. I’m not saying it’s right, but I think there’s many issues that arise when you try to police this type of behavior with the actions K-State is taking. First, how do you reprimand the entire student body if they start a chanting anything with profanity? If the classic “Big 12 Refs Suck,” cheer erupts from the students on October 10th against TCU, are you going to usher the entire section out of the stadium?
Second, how do you address the individual or small group that’s acting inappropriately? Do you hire extra ushers or facility attendants to monitor behavior throughout the stadium or arena? That sounds like a complete waste of time, money, and resources to maybe improve the “welcoming” environment of a college athletic event. Side note: K-Staters always feel that the officiating favors the opposition. So, there’s constant booing that takes place of nearly everything that isn’t positive towards K-State. Trying to make a K-State event more inviting is tough, but not as tough as it might be in couch burning West Virginia. I’d like to think their students would use this sportsmanship contract as kindling to their pre, during, and post game couch fires.
Third, what about the non-student fan? I know plenty of grown men, and women, that act just as inappropriate at a college sporting event as students. I once saw two 40 year old KU fans berate an elderly Missouri fan all the way up the stairs at Arrowhead Stadium. You know the KU/MU rivalry is intense when a couple middle aged men harass an elderly WOMAN on her slow walk to the concourse. Is K-State going to require all season ticket holders to sign a sportsmanship pledge as well? If not, is their money and donation to the Ahearn Scholarship fund not welcomed? If they do commit a sportsmanship violation, are they removed from the event? There are just too many questions here, and I think K-State is getting ready to open Pandora’s Box in regards to crowd control.
I could go on, but the major gripe I have with this “sportsmanship campaign” by K-State is this: It’s further coddling the current college student from any type of environment that may be uncomfortable and/or offensive. We’re living in society today that wants to immediately persecute anyone that disagrees with anything they find offensive or harmful. There are some aspects of a K-State sporting event that can be, and will be, offensive. I’m not saying it’s right, it’s just the honest truth. Individuals that attend sporting events know exactly what they’re exposing themselves, and their family members, too. In the end, K-State’s making a pretty good PR splash with this initiative. However, K-State’s sportsmanship campaign is unnecessary and quite frankly, a waste of time and resources.
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