Rutgers' Pathetic Display of Vulgarity
The play came late in the game, when Rutgers expanded its lead over Navy to a comfortable level after a tight three quarters.
Navy's Reggie Campbell took the kickoff and ran full speed ahead up the middle with all the force his 168-pound body could generate.
Campbell, almost always the smallest and fastest man on the field, hit a wall of XXXL-sized scarlet jerseys and was slammed to the ground at the bottom of the pile. He got up slowly, limping off. This gutsy kid, a slotback who already spent three quarters being chased and tackled by gangs of defensive linemen and linebackers, all weighing at least 100 pounds more than him, was then given a dose of Rutgers' student section class.
''You got fucked up. You got fucked up. You got fucked up," they chanted.
Reggie Campbell is a senior. After graduation in June he has a five-year commitment to the American military, which, like it or not, is at war.
"This is how you treat people who may die for this country?" said Bill Squires, an Annapolis graduate (Class of'75) who was on the sidelines for the Friday night game in Piscataway and was shocked by the obscene chants directed at the Navy players and fans throughout the game. "It was the most classless thing I've seen."
Navy was booed and peppered with "You suck!" chants when they stepped on the field for both halves. Toward the end of the second half, Rutgers students in the new bleacher section began to serenade the adjacent section of Navy fans and uniformed Midshipmen.
''Fuck you, Navy. Fuck you, Navy. Fuck you, Navy."
"There were wives and small children up there," said Squires, an academic recruiter for the academy who has been to dozens of away games and never seen such contempt directed at his team. "Our Midshipmen reacted the way they were taught. They didn't respond, but the band started playing 'Anchors Aweigh' to drown them out. Me, I felt like going up there and smacking somebody. I was mad, and it bothered me all weekend."
Booing, cursing, chanting obscenities, unfortunately, are now part of the game day experience. It's easily been three decades since fans across the country in all sports began spending more time and creative energy jeering the visitors and officials than cheering the home team. Rutgers is far from the worst. They're not even the worst in New Jersey, not with the Jets' fans still in town. Still, every penalty against the Scarlet Knights is greeted with a chant of "asshole, asshole, asshole."
And now that Rutgers is winning, the long-suffering, self-effacing adult fans are being drowned out by a new generation of weight-room bully boys in scarlet T-shirts and red face-paint, who, from the safety of their seats, belittle the guys down on the field who take the hits.
Now that Rutgers is big-time, the old-time academic- and adult-minded fans are being elbowed aside by gangs of frat boys thrusting their fists and faces into the rolling ESPN cameras. What was it your old football coach used to say? Act like you've been there before. Not in the RU student section.
"At one point, I thought, we defend this country for people like this?" said Squires, who lives in West Orange. "I wasn't embarassed as a New Jerseyan. I was embarassed as a human being."
It was so noticeable that Rutgers athletic director Bob Mulcahy called down to Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk yesterday to make sure there were no hard feelings, according to John Wooding, an assistant AD at Rutgers.
Some will excuse the behavior as kids just being kids, out to have a loutish, drunken good time. Spewing obscenities at the visiting team is just part of the fun.
But you'd hope our Jersey kids would be smart enough to make an exception for the service academies, especially the weekend before the anniversary of Sept. 11, their generation's own Day of Infamy. You'd hope they'd be sensitive enough to realize that some of those Midshipmen may soon be among the young American men and women fighting and bleeding and dying in Iraq and Afghanistan. Young Americans, the same age as those safe in the stands watching a football game with their faces and bodies painted red.
At the very least, you'd think the Rutgers students would have some appreciation for the effort the undersize Navy players put out. They aren't like the players from Louisville or West Virginia or some of the other ranked powerhouses Rutgers now finds itself among. They are what Rutgers was not so many years ago. Students first, athletes second. Except better.
The new Rutgers is a big-time football school, with all the hype and manufactured drama. Coach Greg Schiano leads his team through pregame Scarlet Walk, chest out, stomach in, looking every bit the general except without gold braids, epaulets and a full rack of medals. The band plays. The cheerleaders and dance team girls wave pompoms. The conquering heroes go past, eyes front. At game time, the scoreboard TV shows the team coming down the tunnel to a soundtrack from Armageddon. An Army helicopter chop-chops overhead (your tax dollars at work).
Football has always marched to a militaristic or tribal drum beat, to whip up players to greater levels of violence. The game is always likened to war by coaches, players, announcers and writers who haven't been to war.
But to Reggie Campbell and his Navy teammates, Friday night's game wasn't war. It was a game. War is around the bend.
They deserved better.
And that red on the faces of some Rutgers' fans wasn't body paint.
Now I'll voice my opinion, I suppose. Fuck you right back Rutgers. You do not deserve to disgrace the same grass those
An Open Letter to Rutgers Students:
Thank you for the terrific support you have shown the Rutgers football team in our first two home games this season. Our team is inspired when they emerge from the South end zone tunnel to hear the overwhelming cheers from a packed Rutgers Stadium.
You, our students, are the face of Rutgers. Your behavior and your cheers give us the home field advantage, and help to set the tone of enthusiasm for the Stadium on game day.
The jeers and vulgarities hurled by a small group of students at the U.S. Naval Academy football team during the Rutgers–Navy game embarrassed the University, the alumni, and Rutgers fans across our State. The behavior was undignified, disrespectful, and unacceptable. Some parents were so upset by the vulgar chants in the student section that they left the game with their children.
By contrast, we saw Rutgers fans standing and applauding the Navy players as they came on to the field, and the two teams showed the mutual respect they have for each other after the game when they stood together for the playing of each institution's alma mater. The behavior of a small group has caused many alumni, fans, and supporters great concern – and appropriately so. Both the President and the Director of Athletics have apologized to their counterparts at the U.S. Naval Academy.
Rutgers is built on a 240-year history of tradition, intellect and character. All members of University community expect our students to conduct themselves in ways that reflect positively on this tradition and that bring honor to the university. The Athletics Department and Student Affairs will work together with student groups to encourage good sportsmanship and incorporate whatever measures are necessary to ensure that this will occur.
Let's show the nation that Rutgers' student fans, like our football team, are among the Nation's best. We ask for your help by acting with the respect and dignity worthy of our great University.
Thank you all for your continuing support, and GO SCARLET KNIGHTS.
Director of Athletics
Vice President, Student Affairs
Letter to Vice Admiral Jeffrey L. Fowler
Open Letter to Rutgers Students
September 11, 2007
Vice Admiral Jeffrey L. Fowler
United States Naval Academy
121 Blake Road
Annapolis, Maryland 21402-5000
Dear Vice Admiral Fowler:
Let me offer my apologies on behalf of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, for the disrespectful and disgraceful behavior exhibited by some of our fans at the Rutgers–Navy game last Friday. I was at the game but did not hear the offensive chants, which came from a relatively small number of fans, and I learned about them only later. What I witnessed was actually quite the opposite: a large number of Rutgers supporters standing to applaud the Navy players as they left the field at halftime.
No student-athlete should ever be subject to profane language directed at them from the crowd, and certainly not the young men of the Naval Academy who have made a commitment to serve our nation in a time of war. Your Midshipmen conducted themselves with dignity throughout the game and have my admiration.
You have my best wishes and, again, my apologies.
Richard L. McCormick
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Labels: US Navy