The Full Nelson: As team improves, fans must too

Like most people at GW, I’m glad Saturday’s basketball game against Richmond wasn’t televised. Despite all the hype, our performance was disappointing. We embarrassed ourselves and would have only damaged our reputation had the game been on national or even regional television. Luckily, only a small section of Richmond fans and the actual Richmond players witnessed that pitiful display.

Of course, I’m not talking about the GW basketball team. I’m talking about the GW fans, and more specifically, the student section.

From our chants to our treatment of Richmond fans to our behavior during the national anthem, we displayed a complete lack of maturity and basketball savvy. Our behavior was more befitting of a cockfight in the back of a bar than a basketball game on a college campus.

That so many students showed up should have made for an incredible atmosphere. In my four years at GW, I’ve never witnessed anything close to the pre-game hype that surrounded Saturday. I’ve never had multiple discussions on what time we’d have to arrive. I’ve never stood in line for two hours before a game. And I’ve never been more proud to go to GW than when sporadic chants of “Let’s go G-dub” broke out while waiting in that line.

But then the Richmond team bus pulled up and most everyone turned to see. And slowly, “Let’s go G-dub” turned into “Richmond sucks,” and all of my pride disappeared as quickly as it had arrived.

“Richmond sucks” became our chant of choice for pre-game warm-ups and the actual game. But most astonishingly, when the saxophone paused during what was a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem, a few guys saw the perfect opportunity to yell “Richmond sucks,” and they took it.

I have never witnessed a more classless act at a sporting event or any other public gathering for that matter.

I am well aware that every fan base has its scum, its losers, its trash, but the sad fact remains- even if only three or four guys have feces for brains, their actions reflect on all of us. Fortunately, we as students can police this type of behavior. So the next time someone standing next to you doesn’t remove their hat and keep their mouth shut during the anthem, do both for them.

Back to our favorite chant, “Richmond sucks.” I hope reading it in print helps some people realize how truly dumb it makes us sound. It’s like telling everyone else that we have the judgment of seventh graders and the creativity of first graders. If “Richmond sucks” is all we can come up with, we might as well rename the school “University of Maryland at Foggy Bottom.”

Besides making us look like idiots, that kind of chant does nothing to help our team. When we chant anything pro-GW, it motivates our players. When we chant anything anti-Richmond, it motivates their players.

Why do you think guys like Michael Jordan and Reggie Miller thrived in Madison Square Garden, one of the nastiest places to play? It’s because great athletes feed off negative energy. Sure, Richmond doesn’t have any Jordans or Millers, but they’re a solid basketball team with a good coach. That’s why they already won at Kansas, at Colorado and at Xavier. “Richmond sucks” didn’t faze them. It sparked them and our team paid for our idiocy.

Another reoccurring chant that we fell in love with was “bull shit,” that timeless classic used after a really bad call. Our problem was that we chanted “bull shit” after every call.

Now I understand that home fans are biased and we’re going to think the refs did a lousy job no matter what happens. But chanting “bull shit” after every call takes away its meaning and only contributes to the projection that we know nothing about basketball. That chant should only be used once or twice a game, and only for egregious errors at critical junctions in the game. That way, when the refs really screw up in the closing minutes, our “bull shit” chant will actually sound like a cry of injustice and not a broken record.

If you paid attention Saturday, the only times we helped pick up the team’s intensity is when we chanted “Let’s go defense,” “Not in our house,” or just jumped up and down while making noise. That noise energized our players and you could see them feeding off us. Likewise, every time we chanted “Beetlejuice” at Richmond’s point guard, you could see him feeding off us.

The same goes for the small but loud section of Richmond’s fans. All our taunting did was give them ammunition to fire back at us as their team pulled away. And why we were even taunting them in the first place is beyond me. Outside of roughly 30 students, the majority of their fans were elderly alumni. That’s right, some of us were actually giving the swear finger to grandmas and grandpas. Go Terps.

The sad shame of it all is that head coach Karl Hobbs and his players have worked their butts off to resurrect this program. Until Saturday, they were undefeated in the Smith Center, giving all that effort and all that emotion for us, so we could continue chanting “Not in our house,” not “Richmond sucks.”

We should be proud of the way they played this year and the season they gave us. Based on Saturday, I’m not sure they should feel the same about us.

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