Tuesday, October 5, 2010

How about family friendly football games?

By Tom Grant
PhD student, Center for ETHICS*

The University of Idaho recently changed the name of the week before the Boise State football game. It used to be called “Beat BSU Week.” Henceforth, it will be known as “Vandal Pride Week.”

Ooops. Two weeks later, the Student Alumni Relations Board changed it back to "Beat BSU Week." That sentiment is a tradition that is highly valued at UI.

In actuality, we expected little of substance to change under either name — though we will offer one suggestion to try to make a difference. We suggest creating a family friendly area in the Kibbie Dome parking lot.

That's been one of the areas of conflict between Idaho fans and visitors. Some Idaho supporters still continue to malign Boise State in every way possible. At a recent volleyball match, the rhyme of, “Who do hate? Boise State” greeted visitors, and dispatched them when it ended. And these were sober fans.

When the President of BSU called Idaho fans “nasty” and “inebriated,” it was no idle remark. It reflected his personal experience. He has walked the gauntlet of drunken Idaho tailgaters in the Kibbie Dome parking lot. He has heard the insults thrown like stones at anyone wearing blue and orange. The image he retained of Idaho fans was “nasty” and “inebriated.”

Frankly, those of us who breathe Vandal black and gold may feel little empathy for the BSU President. He’s a big guy — whose team is ranked in the top 5. He can take it. But it may serve Idaho well to consider whether the impression that he gained of the University of Idaho is also shared by other visitors. You should ask, would you want your children to have that impression of Vandals fans?

Our proposal was raised by Seth Haselhuhn, a graduate student at the Center for ETHICS*. He thought of sectioning off a family area in the Kibbie Dome parking lot that would be off-limits to drinking and tailgating. It would have a route to the Kibbie Dome entrance that did not border the tailgating area.

If fans want to drink and celebrate prior to Vandals games, so be it. Revelry is part of the sport. But there’s no reason to mix revelry and rivalry when hatred seems to spring from it.

If Boise Fans choose to tailgate alongside Vandal fans, that should be their right. But if they choose to avoid the abuse and park in the family area, they should have that option, too.

Dr. Sharon Kay Stoll has this to say about the discussion of a name changes for "Beat BSU Week" and the Vandal tailgating culture:

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