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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

“UA fans, Zoo show true colors”

Alan Walsh/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Alan Walsh
Alan Walsh/Arizona Daily Wildcat

The game between the Arizona Wildcats and the Oregon Ducks was one of the best-played games of the 2009 college football season. It was also the worst display by a group of fans in recent memory.

Before getting down to the nitty gritty, it must be noted that it wasn’t all the Arizona fans who made the collective group look awful. However, the actions of a few reflected very poorly on the group as a whole.

Three words come to mind when thinking about the UA fans’ actions: embarrassing, barbaric and despicable.

The display was embarrassing for many reasons. A few hundred people got the bright idea to try and rush the field before the game was even over. Arizona was facing the most prolific offense in the Pacific 10 Conference and held a 7-point lead with about three minutes left in the game.

“”I saw (the Arizona fans on the sidelines) and I actually smirked,”” Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli said after the game. “”It was kind of funny.””

Way to motivate a player who didn’t need an extra edge.

I applaud those in the student section who chanted, “”Off the field, off the field,”” to their undereducated compatriots. But take it a step further and don’t even let them get to the field in the first place. Put your arms up, your elbows out and point to the clock.

It ain’t over until it’s over, so just cheer the team on from the stands like you’re supposed to. The team was lucky that a 15-yard personal foul penalty wasn’t called on the fans for excessive celebration.

And the embarrassment started before kickoff. A UA student fought with an Oregon fan over his sign during the buildup to the “”College Game Day”” show. The Ducks’ fan’s sign merely read “”God bless the Oregon Ducks”” but that person thought it would be OK to rip the sign down.

“”It was ridiculous,”” said UA journalism senior Ian Friedman, who witnessed the altercation. “”It’s one thing to be a fan and support your team but when you start physically attacking other people, it’s representing yourself and your school in a negative light.””

Even that wasn’t enough for some Wildcat supporters, leading to the barbaric part of the game. I understand that it’s frustrating to see your team struggle at the end of a close game, but why litter the field with debris? To prove what point? That you’re worth less than the price of your ticket?

An Oregon cheerleader — senior Katelynn Johnson — was pelted in the head by a full water bottle and crumpled to the ground, vomiting. After being treated by medical personnel for several minutes, she was carted off the field on a stretcher and taken to a hospital for additional treatment. No, it wasn’t thrown from the UA student section, but I doubt that any of the older Arizona supporters would stoop to a level that low.

Was the water bottle incident two years ago during a UA-USC men’s basketball game not enough? Was it necessary to resort to those bush-league tactics yet again?

Oregon senior associate athletic director Joe Giansante said batteries, water bottles and various other debris were thrown at the end of the game. Batteries? Really, people?

“”That’s just unacceptable behavior from fans,”” Masoli said, “”whether it was an Arizona fan or any fan across the nation.””

Hate Masoli all you want for the way he torched the Wildcats on the field, but don’t hate him for speaking the truth.

The first chant I ever heard as an Arizona student was during a 2006 16-13 UA win against Brigham Young University.

Was it the “”U-of-A”” chant? No.

Was it the “”Ar-i-zo-na”” chant? No.

As the Cougars took the field, the Zona Zoo broke in a chant of “”F***-the-Mor-mons.””

I should have known then the type of class — or lack thereof — UA fans would display during my years here in Tucson.

That’s just downright despicable. The display at the end of the Oregon game, the vulgar and totally unacceptable taunts at the BYU team, both water bottle incidents — all of it.

UA head coach Mike Stoops and his team showed it has come a long way since 2006 and the Wildcats earned the respect of the Pac-10 and possibly more for their hard-fought battle on the field. But it was only the team that got respect. The fans showed they’ve come a long way in the other direction.

Most people outside of Arizona won’t remember the great game played by the football team. They’ll see fans lining the field before the game is over. They’ll see projectiles bombarding the field. They’ll see classlessness from UA fans.

Even if you stayed in the stands, even if you didn’t throw anything onto the field, you can’t be proud to be a Wildcat fan after Saturday night.

I’m not even proud to be a UA student right now, but at least I can be proud of the football team.

— Brian Kimball is a journalism senior. He can be reached

at sports@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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