27 January 2012

Troubled Fan Bases

Comprehensive look at "classy" fan bases
by Mizzou Matt

Rewind the calender if you will back to 2003, when Missouri beat Nebraska in football for the first time since 1978. A Tiger fan who rushed the field following the upset was sucker punched and knocked out by Nebraska's Kellen Huston. Nebraska blamed the fan for being on the field, but all fingers pointed to Huston for not having self control following the loss.

Bring it to more recent memories, to week two of the 2011 college football season. The game took place on a Friday night, for ESPN Prime Time. Ring any bells? It should. It was Mizzou at Arizona State. Rewind just a bit further and go back to what a Sun Devil fan said when he made the comparison to the devastating tornado that literally took out the city of Joplin on May 22, 2011.

Mizzou fans were, of course, pissed. Threats were sent back and forth between the bases, and after the dust settled following the Tigers' overtime loss, all that was left in the wake was a few hurt feelings.

How about more recently, in November, when BYU center Brandon Davies was heckled by Utah State fans for his off-court sex allegations. It embarrassed the university, who is operated by the Church of Latter-Day Saints, but again, nothing really came of it. BYU's suspension of Davies was served, and he was allowed to return to playing.

January rolls around and it's time for "The Rematch"- LSU vs Alabama for the BCS National Championship. Jack-jawing fans spewed all kinds of filth back and forth en route to Alabama's lopsided shutout victory. A Tide fan took the celebration too far, when he teabagged a passed out Bayou Bengals fan. And people thought that Cornhusker fans were classy?

Bring it to almost present day, when Michigan State freshman Branden Dawson apparently yelled out at Purdue's Robbie Hummel "I hope you tear your ACL again!" from up in the Izzone (named for Spartans' head coach Tom Izzo). Boilermaker head coach Matt Painter turned and had an exchange with Dawson during the game, which of course only brought about more heckling. Izzo has scolded the fan base for that incident, stating "I'm gonna handle it." Dawson, from Gary, IN, was recruited by Painter and his staff, but chose to take his heckling talents to East Lansing.

What does all this mean? Why am I bringing all this up?

I bring up these instances of classless fans and fan bases because this past week, a rumor was started online that a group of Mizzou students/fans were going to be wearing t-shirts that had the letters "NMT" printed on them. The letters, a reference to Kansas guard Thomas Robinson, took a cheap shot at his deceased mother, grandmother, and grandfather. The letters stand for "No Mom Tom". It certainly got both sides of the rivalry stirring in their seats, chomping at the bit for the February 4th match up at Mizzou Arena. After all, Kansas is notorious for their fans calling, texting, as well as sending nasty messages through Facebook and Twitter to Mizzou players. "It's all a part of the rivalry."

Here's the irony- nobody at the University of Missouri even knew of this alleged plan.

"Wait, so what's going on here?" Tiger fans are obviously upset because they thought they had what many are calling a "douchebag" in their fan base. Kansas fans are upset because of the low-blow the reference takes. 'T-Rob' has been through a lot since the tragedies of last year, which all happened within a month of each other. Now, it is just him and his sister.

Back to the irony. Nobody at Mizzou, and apparently nobody in the state of Missouri knew what was going on....until it was posted on a Kansas fan message board. The post originator's IP (internet protocol) address was traced to the Lawrence, KS area. 

Hmm..something is amiss here.

Could it be that a Jayhawk fan made up a heinous rumor to get a rise out of the Kansas faithful? Personally, I wouldn't put it past them, but to make a rumor such as this just to get a rise out of a fan base is lower than low.

Don't get me wrong, I hate Kansas with every fiber of my being, and I have a strong disdain for T-Rob because he is a Jayhawk, but I'm not about to go blasting the guy's dead mother. That's below me. That's below us. That's below Mizzou.

A representative of the infamous Mizzou cheering section, The Antlers, had this to say via the group's official Twitter account:
"ATTENTION INTERNET: STOP BEING SO STUPID! We aren't making any signs, shirts, billboards or keychains with a "NMT" slogan. That's below us."
"We don't know how stuff like this gets started, but no. We are not printing any shirts, or signs and don't endorse that slogan" 
But all these instances beg the question- "How far is too far?" Obviously, in a case like Robinson, that's too far. In a case like Hummel, that's too far. In a case like the LSU fan, that's too far. Rivalries and jack-jawing are all fun and games, but when you start talking about bodily harm, wishing death or dismemberment, or mocking a guy because he has a dead mother, that definitely crosses the proverbial line in the sand. NOBODY should ever have to put up with that, not from rival schools, and certainly not from people in their own fan base, and nobody, I repeat NOBODY at Mizzou is condoning, endorsing, or planning on using the "NMT" slogan. Ever.

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