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The Growing Nastiness In The Stands

We're growing to believe that we've been wrong in focusing only on Maryland when we talk about bad behavior. Saturday in Atlanta, there were several incidents that bother us. We've had reports of "F___ Duke" shirts, "JJ Sucks" and the like. There were also at least two times when items were thrown on the court, and near the end of the game, Chris Duhon's aunt was hit with a plastic bottle thrown from the student section. We've heard of similar incidents of bad sportsmanship at other arenas, and during football games (Including one, where Duke students were alleged to have been throwing debris at Northwestern cheerleaders.)

While, on the one hand, the unabashed hatred of Duke basketball can be taken as a point of pride, we feel that some expressions of that hatred cross the line. And while it is Duke today, it could be anyone else if this behavior is allowed to stand.

As this is becoming a more general problem than just Maryland, perhaps it is time for the ACC to step up.

First and foremost, we'd encourage the ACC to tell their officials that it is time to start enforcing the rules about Unsporting Conduct by Followers. Any time debris is thrown on the court, a technical foul should have been called. Even if this were to happen at Cameron, we'd be happy to see this call made (as long as it were applied equitably across the rest of the conference.) Additionally, the use of vulgar or obscene language should now be whistled. ACC arenas should not allow people to enter with bottles, cans, batteries, etc. Those items are becoming weapons. Arenas should deny admission to fans who are intoxicated, and arenas should eject fans from the games who throw debris on the court, and eject anyone who tries to cover up for those fans. Future tickets should be denied on a second offense.

Two of us have young children, and there are places in the ACC where we wouldn't want to take our kids, and that's a shame. When we were growing up, the rivalries were intense, exciting, but respectful. ACC Basketball was for the whole family. Sure, we hated Dean Smith and Carolina, but we didn't wear "F___ Carolina" shirts, or the like. The thought would never have occurred to us. At the extreme, the Duke fans learned their lesson after the Herman Veal incident, where after Veal was accused of sexual misconduct, the students showered the court with condoms and panties, and had inappropriate signs. Duke President Terry Sanford stepped in and challenged us to improve.

We'd like to see the leaders of the other universities in the ACC similarly challenge their students and fans to raise the level of their support. It would be nice to see some other student sections challenge and rival the Crazies with their creative and clever support. Until then, to paraphrase Uncle Terry, this conference risks the reputation of having poor fans.