Right now, the talk about Mizzou basketball should be focused on two things:
1. How much potential does our 5-0 club have?
2. What are we going to do to get more than 6,000 fans to show up?
Instead, the talk dominating message boards is not our dynamic scoring duo of Clarkson and Brown, but rather the actions of a handful of "fans" who seemed to think they have a right to cheer as crudely as they want to, and the ongoing battle they are having with Mike Alden and the University of Missouri, as a whole.
In short, I'm tired of it. While I think the University is not blameless here and perhaps is contributing to the problem, if I had to pick a side between a small group of students defending the indefensible and the University of Missouri, I'm going with the latter.
Backing up a moment, I am motivated to post this mini-column because I consider myself a Mizzou basketball "nut", every bit as much as the Antlers. I live 20 minutes inside the Kansas state line, yet my wife and I made a 7 1/2 hour round trip to watch the Tigers play freaking IUPUI. This is nothing new -- I've been making these drives for weekend nights against Cupcake College since I graduated -- with my folks, with friends, and for the last few years, my wife.
Don't misunderstand - we enjoy the drive and getting out of the rat race of life and our jobs -- and Mizzou basketball is something we love. But, the tickets are getting more and more expensive each year, gas ain't getting any cheaper, and with every game on in HD, one could make several arguments that we would be wise to dump our tickets or at least not go to as many games.
But, we still pay and we still go, because we love the Tigers and we have gotten to know the folks around us at the games, and it's fun. And our view counts just as much as the Antlers.
I also don't hate the Antlers. I think they do have tradition. They have, at times, been funny. They have every potential to be clever and humorous and maintain that tradition -- without being crude.. I am not even that sensitive about SOME of what they've said, even if I understand how others could feel they've crossed lines. But, now, they've not just crossed lines, they've completely made an embarrassment of themselves, and any reasonable person who has viewed the list the AD has released of slogans that they've used just this season would agree.
But, instead of backing off and admitting they were wrong, what do they do? They tempt fate. They come up with a new chant that is obscure enough they could have gotten away with it before but now they can't. And they knew that when they chanted it, in my mind, and they got what they wished -- more attention. Though most folks had no idea what it meant, it was clearly sexual and any thinking person knew it violated the spirit of what Alden and Company are trying to enforce. And they got kicked out -- and in my mind, justifiably.
Now, don't get me wrong -- I don't feel Mike Alden and company are blameless here, either. I hope he realizes the utter hypocrisy of kicking the Antlers out while Blurred Lines blared on the speaker system. And I do sense Alden kind of has it in for the Antlers, and I think perhaps a better move would have been to just wait until the end of the game and then ban them from the next game.
I suppose I'm just tired of it. I'm tired of reading debates on Twitter and on message boards discussing exactly how tasteless we can allow our students to be, without kicking them out. (Why should we allow any kind of "tasteless"?) I'm tired of reading about allowed phrases and banned phrases and how some fans are prudes and how others are all about bud light and brisket, as if the latter means you are supposed to defend crude chants that have nothing to do with basketball. But, more than anything,as I think about this issue and read all the discussion on it, I keep going back to one question:
Why can't they just cheer?
Why can't they, for a few games, just put aside the unfunny, tasteless, borderline slogans and just cheer on Clarkson, Brown, JWIII and the rest of the team, struggling to find its identity? Why not, for a few games, yell encouraging things at our players or chants that everyone agrees are clean and hoops related?
Is that too much to ask for? Why should the mother we sat near have to explain to her 4 year old what that slogan they got banned for meant? Why are we even attempting to defend a group that used a Hurricane Katrina reference? Is this really what we're about? Why does a basketball cheer even need to reference sex?
Why don't they pull out their Missouri fight song booklet and belt out one of those instead?
Regardless, why don't they JUST CHEER for the Tigers?
What puzzles me about their stance is this:
Here we are, in 2013, in a supposed new, glorious era for Mizzou Athletics - two games away from an SEC Football title and a possible national championship with an undefeated, SEC Champion Volleyball squad and a basketball team with some real potential, aiming to put our best foot forward as the University of Missouri-Columbia. Finally, we're getting a chance to earn some real, long-lasting, national respect, and what are we talking about?
A 1980's-era student group clinging onto its right to yell "Mister Mister Sister Fister" and jeer an injured player about Hurricane Katrina.
Yeah, no thanks. If they can get with the program, fine. Otherwise, I hope the door doesn't hit them as they leave Mizzou Arena.