Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Wow, it’s awfully early to award the 2008 Michael Vick Stupidity Award so early in January, but we may have to roll out the hardware for this one…

To add to the crying criticism, close scrutiny of the video tape at the end of the UNC v. Maryland game reveals a female fan screaming, "Go back to the ghetto!" at the Terps.

Not kidding.

Of course, this has started the “racist” debate, and has led anti-Tar Heels to paint all fans of Carolina with the same broad stereotypical brush. We got wind of this over at AOL FanHouse from contributor and long-time Heel fan Sportz Assassin who was appalled, and rightfully so.

We read about this early this morning, and gave it a ponder later while at BLASER PHYSICAL THERAPY (shameless plug) working on the old bum shoulder. Here’s our take:

We concur -- appalling, unacceptable behavior, but not demonstrative of the entire nest of Heels. Now we are all quick to categorize based on minimal information, but taking one comment from one student(?) and labeling the entire fan base with it is…well…stupid, as stupid as the comment in question. However, that doesn’t excuse, or explain, this horrific scene following the Tar Heels loss to Maryland.

And before you say it -- yes, it’s no worse than what you hear at a Tech, UVA, State, or Duke game, we know that. That doesn’t make it any less stupid or damn ugly. Shame on somebody.

So how does this happen?

Unfortunately, it was aimed at the Maryland players who are predominantly black – thus fueling the racists take, and it comes on the heels (no pun intended) of a recent racially insensitive verbal blunder.

First off, note that UNC’s team, like most in college hoop, has a bunch of African American players. So whoever yelled this is OK with her black guys, but not your black guys…Go figure? Or is it possible that she actually believes that the African American Heels come from more affluent neighborhoods than the African American Terps? That would simply be narrow minded, naive and a little bit weird. In the grand scheme of things, who cares? They're kids playing a game.

While we don’t frame people as racists, based on one comment, we do think such statements are a clear sign of some prejudice. Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Clause, and there is still some racial prejudice in the world, just like there is religious prejudice, geographic prejudice, financial prejudice, etc. It is what it is.

As a culture, we are generally more tolerant of others than we were 20 years ago. Still kids are raised by their parents, so it take several generations to remove family instilled prejudices – even if it’s something as simple as vegetables. Mrs. TAH hates ‘em, our kids love ‘em…She hates Duke (in a sports kind of way), will they eventually hate Duke? It’s an environment thing.

We commented here on the Kelly Tilghman “lynching” controversy. Tilghman by all accounts is not a racist, and the account we rely on the most is from Michael Wilbon (an African American with a degree from Northwestern) who knows her and says she isn’t. There is still something a little off-kilter when the concept of “lynching” is still on your mind or in your vocabulary. Perhaps, it simply demonstrates that history is what it is, and human nature is what it is. Change moves slowly. None the less, Tilghman’s one terrific blunder doesn’t necessarily mean she’s a racist.

So why the seemingly racist outburst from somebody at a college basketball game?

Simple, this female fan (racist or not, and we can’t speculate because we don’t know her) was angry. She is passionate about the game, and she was very upset by the loss. Her reaction, as wrong as it was, was to say something mean and hurtful towards people she doesn’t know personally. Would she ever say any such thing, or anything similar, to her personal friends, or to her family? (You know the drill -- Do you put your feet up on your Mom’s furniture? The answer is always NO from the person with his/her feet on your furniture.)

People get incredibly wrapped up in sporting events. We play golf, go fishing, play video games, go to the movies and watch sports because they are so incredibly distracting. People say movies are an escape from reality. Some folks are big fans of dramas. Sporting events are simply dramas that are real and happening in real time. Fans get so involved they forget war, poverty, famine, taxes, crappy jobs, screaming kids – you name it.

And that’s the beauty of it. For two hours you can wrap your brain around a basketball game –every dribble, every shot, every rebound and every SINGLE BLOWN CALL (by fill-in-the-blank) BIASED REFS that keeps your worthy team from vanquishing an unworthy opponent. Winning can be blissful, while a sudden unexpected loss can be crushing. Hence, the outburst, right or wrong.

Also add to it the “crowd dynamic.” Various studies demonstrate that being in a crowd of like-minded folks can enhance the experience of a game, a concert, a church service, etc. Some say it’s liberating, and others claim it enables some folks to let loose in ways they would not if acting as an individual. There are also similar studies about the differences between crowds and mobs. Let’s assume there are a few with the “mob mentality” in every crowd. More than a few if it’s a soccer match in Europe or Latin America.

Win or lose, when it’s all over, some fans shrug and quickly re-enter the “real word” while others go so far as to cry. Others say really STUPID things like "go back to the ghetto." Shame on ‘em. There is no excuse even in the heat of the moment, but that one fan does not a typical crowd of 20,000 in the Dean Dome make so hold back the “all things suck with Tar Holes on Crap Hill” comments. Mr. Pot calling Ms. Kettle black doesn’t really reflect well on anybody.

Of course, all of this is particularly ironic when one considers Dean Smith’s track record on civil rights and common sense. (So what if he once flipped off the Maryland fans back in the 70's.)

So, that’s the long answer…

You might be a redneck, if after your team loses, and you yell “Go back to the Ghetto,” at the winning team.

Hey, it’s the South, and there are 20,000 people in the “crowd.” There has to be a couple idiots mixed in who are burdened by a tendency to blurt out regrettable statements. We realize that’s intellectual/geographic prejudice, but we have always been taught that stupid is, as Mrs. Gump so aptly put it, as stupid does.

(Yes, we know there are idiotic redneck types in the North too…)

There you have it. Let’s move on.

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