On any given Saturday hundreds of thousands of fans pack into a college football stadium to watch two teams battle it out. Some of these fans have geared up for the entire week. They arrive early, tailgate for hours and hope their team can put together a flawless performance. When something does not go as planned some of these avid fans will express their opinion. Unfortunately, they are not concerned with those around them when they start to yell in disapproval of a specific player, the coach or the officials. This happens at almost every stadium in which a game is being played. What has recently come to my attention is the fact that the players on the field are oblivious to what is going on in the stands.
A former Oregon Duck player attended the UCLA game in Autzen Stadium on Saturday. Rather than sit in a box or on the 50 yard line with the alumni the former player decided to sit in the corner end zone as a regular fan. What happened during the game was a shock to the player but normal for the common fan. In a letter to John Canzaro of the Oregonian the former Duck player blasted fans for yelling expletives at the quarterback, coach and players. Rather than biting his tongue the player responded to the fan which expletives himself. As you can imagine, this immediately became a disaster.
The entire letter is available here. As I read through this letter I was shocked to read the response of the former player. Is he really that oblivious to what goes on in the stands? I can attend a college football game at any stadium in the United States and hear similar types of comments from the fans. These fans have paid good money and they are going to express their opinion. While I do not agree with this type of behavior it is very common. In fact, I would say it is much more common than uncommon.
I think every diehard college football fan in the country has a story about a fan getting kicked out of their section. The fan started by yelling at the refs, then they started blasting the players and by the end of the 3rd quarter it was a full out onslaught on the entire football program. When I was in my college days this was about one out of every three students. I can remember college students dropping every expletive in the book when a coach decided to not go for it on 4th down.
Football Brings Out the Crazed Sports Fan
When I was in college there were fans that would tailgate for up to 12 hours before the game started. By tailgate, I mean hardcore tailgate. No lounging around and just hanging out. They were throwing the football, consuming their favorite beverage and studying up on the game. They would know every single player of the opposing team by the time they walked into the stadium. This level of devotion brings about strong emotions when things do not go the right way.
I cannot place my finger on it but football brings out a little more emotion than any other sport. Fans that are normally quiet will stand up and scream at the top of their lungs. Rather than sitting on their hands some people will jump up and down and throw things on the field. I have attended games in which the university would not sell bottled water or bottled drinks because they knew the fans would throw them on the field. This is a clear indication that things have gone a little too far. The university has to walk a very tight line as they want fans to remain avid but they do not want fights to break out.
The most amazing thing, to me, is the fact that players have no idea this is going on. I have been attending college football games since 1998 and I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, this happens all the time. By all the time I mean every single game. I have become very selective in my attendance because of the behavior of the fans. Some would argue that fan bases with more tradition act better. I disagree. I went to a Tennessee football game in Neyland Stadium two years ago and those were some of the worst fans I have ever witnessed. Tennessee is a team with tons of college football tradition.
Maybe more college football players need to attend games as a “regular” fan. If they did I think they would realize this type of behavior is par for the course. No box seats, no 50 yarders, get up there in the upper end zone and soak in the fervor of those fans.