Fan behavior reflects on University
Rutgers spirit undeniable, but offensive jabs must be kept in check
Saturday marked one of the most anticipated nights in history for Rutgers football, and there was definitely an atmosphere to match. High Point Solutions stadium was packed with a record-breaking, sold-out attendance of 53,774, and Rutgers fans dominated at least 75 percent of the crowd.
Rutgers football is becoming big. Many people bring their families and children to games, but we question how appropriate the environment is for children to be around. There are supposed to be sections for families that are separate from student sections, both for tailgating and in the stadium itself, but of course with more than 50,000 people in attendance children are bound to end up around drunken college students. It’s difficult to create an entirely family-friendly environment at a college football game, but it’s still important that we all become more conscious of our behavior for the sake of our school and for the kids.
In any case, it’s nice to see Rutgers presenting a unified front after such a rocky couple of years. Despite scandals and controversies in the athletic department and around campus in general, the overwhelming support for Rutgers these last few weeks leading up to the game has been a welcome reminder of what it means to be a part of this University. The team spirit Rutgers fans displayed was phenomenal, and it was felt all around campus well before the game. University President Robert L. Barchi shared his own feelings about the recent uplift in attitude with nj.com: “What I feel when walking around campus now is a sense of energy that just wasn't here when I first got here. People are excited…” While we’re all disappointed that the game wasn’t a win for us, we are definitely looking forward to what is sure to be an exciting season ahead.
But there has also been question about the behavior of some fans who took things too far. Chants of “F--- Penn State” and other profanities were to be expected, but some people completely crossed the line when they brought up references to the recently exposed child sex abuse scandal at Penn State. T-shirts with the words “Ped State” were being sold by some people before the game in a poorly attempted mockery of Penn State’s former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky’s charges of pedophilia, and a few even started up a chant of “Sandusky” during the game. In another instance, someone had a flag in the stadium parking lot depicting a disgusting image intended to make light of child sex abuse at Penn State.
Child abuse is nothing to laugh about, and we’re beyond disappointed in these fans who took the cheapest shot possible at Penn State and sunk to the level of using such a horrific scandal just to bash on them. This goes far, far beyond the usual smack talk that we acknowledge will always surround these kinds of rivalries. There’s no excuse for that kind of behavior, and we hope that it never becomes a serious issue in our Rutgers community. We’re glad that the rest of the Rutgers fan base had the decency and common sense to shut this kind of behavior down and ignore it rather than encourage it. The spotlight’s on us now, and it’s our collective responsibility to make our University proud both on and off the field.