In 2004, Mike Stoops’ first season as Arizona football’s head coach, the Wildcats had a chance to upset No. 20 Wisconsin. After the deluge of a monsoon and a 90-minute delay, kicker Nick Folk lined up for a long field goal attempt with seconds remaining and the Wildcats trailing 9-7.
Folk’s attempt on the wet field went awry, and the Badgers escaped Tucson with a win.
I was an undergrad at Arizona at the time, and in the stands for that kick. The memory of a particularly angry–and likely, particularly drunk–frat-bro screaming obscenities is etched in my psyche.
“You suck, Folk!” he shouted, one of the more print-friendly comments to come out of his mouth.
The majority of us in the bleachers looked at him sideways, recognizing him for the idiot he was. Yet, no one came to Folk’s defense.
Nick Folk since went on to be one of the best kickers in program history and has been in the NFL for nearly a decade.
Current Arizona kicker Casey Skowron is Arizona’s best kicker since Folk, his three misses against USC aside. He came into Saturday’s game averaging 11 points per game, hitting on attempts from a variety of distances.
And even if Skowron wasn’t kicking well prior to the 28-26, heartbreaking loss, he’s a college kid playing a game. He doesn’t deserve to have scorn heaped on him for missing a few kicks, and he especially doesn’t deserve to have death wished on he or his family.
I think back to the angry idiot in the crowd in 2004. Take that kind of behavior, add the vitriol inherent with the anonymity afforded people via social media, and the result is downright combustible.
Mike Hill from “America’s Pregame” says its best:
— America's Pregame (@AmericasPregame) October 14, 2014
These people are the lowest of the low in sports fandom, and they represent a very small percentage. But they’re also the noisiest. It’s time the majority drowns them out.
In order for that to happen, the majority from other fan bases need to first recognize that every team in every sport has a minority of vocal morons.
Surely some of the sentiment emanating from Skowron’s abuse comes from opposing fan bases, tut-tutting about Arizona fans while reveling in the moral superiority of their own fan bases.
In the same vein, some sleazeballs in Philadelphia stealing a Giants’ fans prosthetic leg became fodder for the usual round of, “Let’s all point and laugh at how awful Philly is.”
Nevermind that it’s now becoming routine to see fist-fights erupt at any NFL venue.
The sooner that the majorities in all fan bases stop making their behavior fodder to further rivalries, or getting mad about such taunts, the quicker the real problems can be drummed out. Tom Holzerman sums it up nicely:
so the thing to do is to actively dissuade people from being shitty, not lash out at ESPN etc. for calling us out on it
— Sleepy Hollowzerman (@tholzerman) October 13, 2014
True fans outnumber brain-dead creeps and it’s not close. Time for the majority to get vocal against the lowlifes.