Part of the game
Owned and published by UMHB, The Bells is a biweekly publication. This content was previously published in print on the Opinions page. Opinions expressed in this section do not necessarily reflect the views of the staff or the university.
To play a sport in college, one must have a significant amount of talent. Most athletes have trained almost their entire lives to get where they are today, and they’ve developed their bodies to do extraordinary things. Not only must they be fine tuned physically, but their mind has to be equally sharp.
A lot of pressure comes with competing at the collegiate level, and mental toughness is crucial.
When athletes take the field or court of the opposing team, fans are ready and waiting to heckle in an attempt to knock them off their game. But where is the line drawn, and how much nonsense is an athlete
expected to take?
At any college basketball game, fans are behind the glass backboard shouting and waving at players to make them miss a free throw. “Brick!” This is considered acceptable behavior, and the player is supposed to block it out and make the shot. It’s all a part of competition, right?
Suppose fans get the roster of the players and began personalizing their jeering. “Miss it, Jacob!” Is this acceptable? What if they disregard an athlete’s playing ability all together, and go after their physical characteristics? “Hey, Jacob, you got big ears and your eyes are too far apart!”
Athletes deal with these types of conditions on a regular basis, but how much abuse must they endure before they crack?
In all honesty, it’s just a part of the game. There are always going to be unruly fans who do and say things that may be considered unsportsmanlike, but players know what they’re getting into when they decide to participate at this level. It’s not a recreational league.
Moreover, heckling the other team is a tradition in sports that has been around since the beginning. For spectators, it’s a way for them to feel a part of the game, and some players feed off of the energy.
Of course, some people might behave inappropriately every now and then, and we shouldn’t condone
that behavior, but that comes with the territory. Many people don’t realize it, but players have been conditioned over their playing years to handle these situations. It all goes back to being mentally tough.
Athletes have to overcome setbacks, fatigue and, yes, even a little trash talk. If they can’t handle it, then they have no business playing.
However, there have been some rules put in place to keep the heckling to a minimum. Alcohol has been a big issue in the past, which is why it is no longer sold at college games. Even in professional sports, it is only served up to a certain point.
At UMHB, as well as other universities, they ask that fans cheer for their team, rather than boo the other. Racial slurs are not tolerated and can even get one tossed out of the game.
These rules are meant to uphold the integrity of the game, but I don’t see anything wrong with giving the opposing team a hard time. It’s a healthy and necessary part of competition.