This past Saturday night Tulsa was hosting 23rd-ranked SMU in a nationally televised game that was billed as a battle between first and second place. It had all the markings of a fantastic matchup. When I walked into the Reynolds Center and saw that it was packed with both students and alumni alike, I was excited for what I hoped would be a hard-fought victory.
I hoped that when the game was over I would be leaving the Reynolds Center excited, happy and proud to call myself a TU fan. What I did not expect to feel was embarrassment—but that is exactly the way I felt leaving, not because of our team (which I am proud to support), but because of a small group of fans.
Tulsa played hard, but ultimately lost to the team that was more dominant. Sure I was upset with the loss—I really wanted to see our perfect run in the conference play out—but that is not a reason to be classless and crude to opposing fans.
Our student section on Saturday—even though it was only a small minority of the students at the game—was awful. When people start chanting “F-ck you SMU,” everyone comes out a loser. Those twenty people made our students and the University of Tulsa look like complete and utter assholes.
Yes, heckling has a place in sports—it can be fun to call out a player for committing a foul or making a mistake—but what happened on Saturday was not a harmless jeer at a player or against the Southern Methodist team. It was an attack on their fans.
When you show up to a basketball game drunk, start shouting vulgarities and flipping the bird at opposing fans for the sole reason that they are fans of a different team, then you are not being a fan. A fan is “an enthusiastic devotee, follower, or admirer of a sport, pastime, or celebrity.” Passion is an essential part of being a fan, but when you mistake profanity and vulgarity against an opposing team’s fan base for fandom, then maybe you need to look at what kind of fan you are.
After the game was over and the fans of both teams were leaving Reynolds, I was embarrassed to even make eye contact with SMU fans. I felt like I needed to apologize to their fans for the actions of those twenty students. My friend told me later that he talked to some SMU fans who said that they know it wasn’t our entire student section or fans, but that they were coming to the game to watch their team and left with a bad perception of TU.
I love Tulsa basketball and am proud to call myself a fan of the Golden Hurricane, but I am not proud to have been at that game and associated with that crowd. We as students should not stand for our own peers tarnishing our name and reputation.