Sean Kirst, a columnist for the Post-Standard, had a great December 1, 2005 post on his blog about going to an S.U. basketball game. The overtime game was exciting and SU won–a great night. What unnerved him was how some of the fans were so vocal with criticism of Louie McCroskey, an S.U. player recently benched for inconsistent play.
Sean stated that “I can never fathom how some fans respond in such an incredibly angry way to the struggles of a college ballplayer” and that the “the level of venom dripping from some fans is just bizarre.” I agree with Sean, but this problem didn’t occur overnight. It’s been a problem since S.U. moved it’s games to the Dome and the Big East made us a “big-time” program.
I used to have season tickets to basketball, but I gave them up due to cost and a growing lack of interest. I had been going to S.U. hoops games with my dad since there was a raised wooden floor at Manley and with high school friends at the Dome.
In the late 1990’s, my dad retired and moved away, my high school friends drifted away and I got married. Suddenly the games didn’t seem as important.
I will not miss the coarse and bitter nature of a significant part of the fans in attendance. Fans scream insults at our own players! Fans feel entitled to victories and they bitch and moan when the current crop of TEENAGERS fails to provide them with what they feel is their due.
I believe there are several reasons for this shift from fan frenzy to barely contained fan angst:
1) The percentage of the crowd that is made up of students is smaller than in Manley days (and moved far away from the court.)
2) Paying absurdly high ticket prices gives the casual fan the idea that he is entitled to something more than just rooting for the home team.
3) The pedestal that SU hoops players are put on in this town contributes to the idea that they are somehow required to contribute something more than hard work on the court and progress towards a degree in the classroom.
4) The fans are predominately older, white and suburban; the players are predominately young, African-American and urban. It’s easier to criticize people you don’t understand and can’t relate with.
5) The media (sorry, Sean!) feed a lot of the fans’ sense of entitlement. The absolute worst example of sports journalism in Syracuse history was an “open letter” written by Bob Snyder to Derrick Coleman. He took Derrick to task for his grief over the gang shooting/murder of his best friend during a summer break in Detroit. This grief was effecting his play on the court, you see. We have our priorities here in Syracuse.
Go Louie, Go Orange! Forgive us fans (and sportswriters) for we know not what we do!