When Penn State played Navy, the Midshipmen took the field to loud, supportive cheers from the Beaver Stadium crowd.
It was Military Appreciation Day, and respect for the Nittany Lions’ opponent appropriately reached an admirable high. One week later, Temple appeared to loud boos and “F— you Temple!” chants emanating from the student section.
No, the Owls aren’t in the business of defending our freedom. And there’s certainly a difference between how one would expect the crowd to treat a team from a service academy as opposed to an in-state foe.
The jeers continued throughout the game. Later, too, some in the student section took to voicing their displeasure with the officials’ through a chorus of “F— you, ref.” The deterioration of decorum from one week to the next, to be blunt, was embarrassing.
To be clear, the entire student section wasn’t responsible for the profanity-laced jeers at Saturday’s game. Plenty of students were sportsmanlike, and those who boo do not reflect all of us — nor do we want them to.
But it was a lot more than just a few voices egging on the opponent, opposing fans and the officials. In this case, it could have been too easy for an onlooker to assume that the actions of a few defined the whole group.
Sure, booing the opponent is nothing new at Penn State or elsewhere. But it never reflects well on Penn State’s student section — and that holds especially true this year. Those chants were even more unbecoming on a day when we were supposedly focusing on something much larger than a football game.
However sporadic, they were an unnecessary
distraction from the Blue Out that turned the stadium navy and raised money to support the fight against child abuse.
And speaking of children, it also would have been good to keep the families in Beaver Stadium in mind before starting this weekend’s chants. What parent wants to have to worry about what kind of expletives their kid’s going to hear at a Penn State football game?
And that so-called “football culture” we’re trying to rise above? It certainly doesn’t do our student section’s reputation any favors when that message is skewed by some overzealous football fans. This game was supposed to send a positive message.
We’ve seen, through the Navy game this year or the Alabama games in past years, that we do — rightfully, in some cases — pride ourselves on good fan behavior. But that behavior should apply across the board, and there is no room for anything less than our best behavior now more than ever.
We should be wary of how we’re acting and ensure that our actions are speaking louder than our words. Unfortunately, on Saturday, the words were too loud to really ignore.