Class Act

When John Beilein addressed the student body before the UCLA game, he showcased not only why he is the finest coach at the school, but the one with the most noble character as well.

One hour prior to tip-off, Beilein spoke briefly with the students. He thanked them for their support and put them on a pedestal with the undergraduate fan bases of Duke, Kentucky, UCLA and others. This, after getting to the Coliseum early enough to welcome the students and – telling them not to eat and that he would be back – purchasing Chick-fil-A for each one.

Then he made the best move of the day, including going small in the second half and inserting walk-on Ted Talkington, who immediately drilled back-to-back shots. This was, frankly, more important, both from a public perception and for the school's fan base.

"How many of you stayed the night last night, raise your hands," Beilein said. "We thank you for that. You're terrific. … I want to say that we appreciate each of you. But there is a small segment – a very small segment – that are making the rest, that are making the game have a lesser enjoyment. I know you all are very intelligent, and you can think of ways to make this a very hard place for opposing teams to play without doing that."

That is using profanity in cheers. A slur, an epithet, whatever one wants to call it. It's taunting an opposing player with an anti-homosexual remark. It's using four-letter words. It's anything in the realm of bad taste, including that which, frankly, the vast majority would identify as not just a poor choice, but an unintelligent one as well. And it's inappropriate, plain and simple. There's nothing difficult about grasping this. But the students had gotten away from using their heads, and instead just followed the example of that small segment that apparently lacks enough ingenuity to think of a legit cheer.

"We have really cleaned this up in the last few years," Beilein said. "In our four-plus years here, we have changed some. Someone's grandmother is sitting over there. Someone's little sister is sitting over there. Let's not ruin it for them, and let's keep (improving) and make this one of the toughest places to play."

Other chants are easier, sure. Let's just use the F-word. Let's use other sexual terms because we're not smart or creative enough to do any research or think of anything else. That's pathetic, as pathetic as the adults who ballistically berate officials all game – right in front of children. Or ones who think cuss words are no different that any other or that the price of admission somehow entitles them to behavior beyond reason. Because, hey, it's a sporting event. I don't have to have couth. Wrong.

The students briefly reverted to the old style after one call during the game, but were waved off by Beilein. And, after a few seconds, they listened. They thought of more appropriate chants. Some brain power was utilized, creative energies flowed. It's really not that difficult, and it makes the game experience much more enjoyable for all.

So kudos to Beilein. We toss around words like "class" far too often. But this was the very act of it. He was applauded by the adults in the crowd. The ones that didn't like it? Perhaps they don't fit the definition of an adult. What Beilein as done for the university, the student section, and West Virginia basketball is immeasurable. And the way he has done it is incontrovertible. It adds to make Beilein arguably the finest basketball head coach in school history – for more reasons than simple Xs and Os.


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