Loh: Terps fans behavior not acceptable

What Maryland students think of their future presidents' comments about their game conduct.

After an upset victory over Navy two weeks ago, Terrapins fans found very few negatives to dwell upon. A resurgent football team, based upon a revived rushing attack and a stifling defense, plus a dramatic conclusion.

But president-to-be come November, Wallace Loh, found one weak spot – the fans. He described the behavior of Terps fans that traveled to M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore to watch their team “simply not acceptable.”

“It reflects so poorly on the University of Maryland when these cadets march in and profanity is yelled by the students,” Loh said of the loud, rumbling chants that apparently caught the attention of university officials.

The question then becomes: is Loh mistaking passion and sports-driven fun with offensive behavior?

“When the people were booing the cadets, I think it was kind of misinterpreted,” University of Maryland junior Maggie Kelfstad said. “I don’t think they were actually booing the navy. I think they were booing the [Navy] football team – booing them as a school, not as part of our military.”

But the criticism on Loh’s part can be taken a step forward – was he implying that vulgar language should not be acceptable at a sporting event?

“I think that [Loh] said it out of obligation because he had to say about the team more than anything, as opposed to actually disliking [Maryland fans’] sportsmanship,” Katie Drury, a junior at the University of Maryland, said in response to Loh’s comments. “Vulgar language is usually frowned upon.”

Regardless of opponent, you can expect rude, tasteless chants at most college and professional settings. Because isn’t that what separates sporting events from the ballet?

Cursing, of course, is highly offensive in most situations. Maryland students do not roam the campus in the same manner they would cheer at their team’s season opener.

After all, Maryland students and fans have a reputation of displaying their team zeal. Last March, there were riots in the streets of College Park following the men’s basketball team defeated Duke.

While much was made of the Duke incident earlier this year, during the game, chants featuring curse words were clearly heard on national television. Students were not at fault for their actions then, so is it a matter of who students direct their chants?

“I think that if it was any other team that we were cheering against, like Duke, it would be fine. I think that just because it was Navy, there was an issue of cheering against them,” Klefstad said.

Like Philadelphia fans, who are notorious for their intense behavior at sporting events, Terps fans like to uphold their reputation. Passionate, enthusiastic fans are what makes following sports great. However, the Terps’ fans are an extension of the university. The University of Maryland, a top-ranked public university that is prided on its excellence in academics and athletics, should aim for a reputation balanced by gusto and responsibility – the same message Loh alluded to.

“I think [Loh] was partly right because disrespecting the cadets out on the field was definitely wrong. I don’t think we should ever be cursing during the game because we have kids, and then last year against Duke – it’s just bad publicity for the school,” Joe Cipollone, a junior University of Maryland student said in the defense of the future-president’s remarks.

But as a fan of the Terrapins, and a student who’s attended every football and basketball game over his tenure at the university, Cipollone believes Loh could have addressed the issue better.

It’s football – plain and simple. And at the end of the day, we’re talking about a game.

“We have to root for Maryland, root against the team we’re playing. We shouldn’t have to feel afraid to cheer [against Navy] because they’re defending our country. We had a whole section where we stood up and cheered for the troops and I think that’s enough. Then you just play football, root for Maryland and against Navy,” Cipollone added.

As the Terps fans watched and cheered and celebrated, the win over Navy provided the fan base with a sense of pride in their team. It was the game that ended a seven-game losing streak. It was the game that after weeks of anticipation, fans finally left with a sense of hope for the season. And of course, it left every fan thinking to themselves, quietly, to themselves, keeping their fingers crossed: This might be our year.

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