Letter to the Editor – 11/11/2011

I don’t think anyone would deny that Oswego has a great hockey tradition. Since the mid 60s we have had an unbroken string of outstanding coaches, awesome players and, of course, committed fans. And with the arrival of the Campus Center Arena, we can legitimately say we have a classy place to play. Regrettably, at Saturday’s game against the College at Brockport, we fell from our classy pedestal into the pit of adolescence and vulgarity with the student section’s unfortunate regression and retreat to language worthy of street corner bullies or children just learning that some swear words really do offend. I am speaking, of course, of the “F U Brockport” chant, which arose more than once in the course of the game.
To be sure, our traditional raspberries after opposing teams’ penalties or after we score a goal are pretty tough, but they have a tradition here, though even they walk that fine line of acceptability. But I don’t think anyone can say that throwing out the “F” bomb truly has any place either in taunting our opposition or as a representation of the quality of our school, our team or our community. “F U Brockport” does everything but paint Oswego as classy; frankly, it makes us sound pretty pedestrian and adolescent. Is this really the best we can come up with?
Of course, there is also the inevitability of the referees imposing a “bench penalty” for such chants, and I am confident that this would happen soon if this pattern continues, for no one can argue that such a chant falls under the heading of good sportsmanship, however difficult that term may be to define. To adapt the phrasing of one of our chants, whose fault would it be then – especially if we lose the game because of a goal scored when we were a player down? Unfortunately, another inevitability would be the imposition of sanctions by the college authorities on those who are identified as engaging in such behavior, and I doubt very much the defense of “free speech,” just being a fan or everyone else was doing it will go very far. There is no right to yell “F U Brockport” or any other school or player.
Oswego should rightly be proud of its hockey team, its facilities and its fans, for they aspire to meet the highest standards. Let’s yell and scream and chant all we want, but let’s not pretend that “F U” has anything to do with class or with being a winner.