Let’s stop harassing our opponents

Christopher Dacanay
Sports Editor

If you’ve been to a Barons game at some point, particularly for soccer, you may have heard some targeted jeers echoing from the students in the crowd.

It’s not that bad, usually — maybe some name-calling, the occasional “you suck” thrown in here and there. Blatant obscenities are few and far between, but nothing’s off the table when the play on the field starts to get confrontational.

Though most would hate to admit it, taunting aimed at the opposing team’s players is just as present at Franciscan University of Steubenville sports games as anywhere else.

It’s not just at Franciscan that this happens, obviously. Spectators calling at the athletes, positively or not, is practically inseparable from sporting events.

What are the other players going to do? Stop playing? Yell back? The jiber’s safety from any repercussions is absolute, especially during a home game.

We’ve grown up in a society that promotes jeering at athletes. The American television-watching culture encourages it. One can scream at his television to his heart’s content without any consequences.

If anything, jeering at players is encouraged — it’s a social phenomenon. We yell at players when we know those around us are going to approve. When they do approve, it gives us social validation.

This is a participation in crowd hysteria, simply going along with what the crowd is doing because that’s what one always does in a sea of babbling maniacs.

Yelling at players to do better is normal, as we can see, but a question flares in my mind: Should we tolerate it?

Franciscan students are called to constantly put the at-large culture into question. Just because everyone else is doing something doesn’t mean we should be doing it as well. This is the mindset that truly sets us Catholics apart from the rest of the secular world.

In my eyes, one should consider Matthew 7:12, which says, “So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; for this is the law and the prophets.”

Treat those opposing players on the field as you would want them to treat you. No one wants to be alone on the field, with the occasional teammate as backup, and to be stared down by a malevolent, rowdy group of young adults.

It’s humiliating to be called out, and at the very least, it’s distracting from the ongoing play. Major props to the players who can be jeered at and keep a cool composure.

If you are under the impression that you would like others to jeer at you in this way, I’m pretty sure you’re lying to yourself.

Insults can get pretty personal, and no one likes that. Apparently, it’s tradition to look up opposing players’ biographies online in order to more potently attack their backgrounds and names.

I’m not asking people to be emotionless drones at games. I would just like spectators to show mercy and hold their tongues more. Think before you speak. If the comment you’re about to yell denigrates someone’s dignity as a human, you probably shouldn’t say it.

Let’s set ourselves apart from the established way of treating others. From now on, when the play starts to get rough, pray for your opponents. Show them the same love that Christ showed you on the cross.

Perhaps I’m being overly-sensitive about all this. However, my primary concern is that I’d hate for someone’s first experience with Catholics to be a negative one where the Catholics are picking on them during a sporting event.

So let’s be mindful about our interactions with others. Even if the other team participates in taunting, let’s turn the other cheek and choose to be positive instead.