Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Camp Randall Was Just As Rowdy 25 Years Ago

I saw the following letter in today's Wisconsin State Journal:

Students: Be quiet and watch the game

I have regularly attended UW football games since 1967. In recent years, student conduct before and at games has eroded to the point that many fans are considering other activities on Saturdays.

During the recent high school band day, with a thousand or so high school students in attendance in addition to thousands of other fans, we were once again regaled by the students' chant "eat s---, f--- you." It's loud enough to be heard on national TV, and surely loud enough for young ears to catch. This chant occurs at every game. And as a loyal, ticket-purchasing fan, I'm offended by this student conduct.

Half the student attendees party until well into the second quarter, then stroll into their seats to shout obscenities. Their team, meanwhile, plays to a half-empty student section. Where's the loyalty?

I'm told by fans from visiting teams who walk through the beer parties on Regent Street and Breeze Terrace that they're subjected to the same foul language. The UW is better than that, and it is time they step up to correct the situation.

Phil Grimm, Madison

Either Mr. Grimm has selective memory, or he used to sit farther from the student section. As a high school student, I regularly attended Band Day back in the early 1980s. I can assure Mr. Grimm that we heard obscenities from the student section even back then (and witnessed cup fights, which we found highly entertaining).

As a college student in the mid-80s, I had student season tickets. The student sections tended to fill early in the first quarter, but that was because (1) most games started at 1:00 p.m. in those days (few Badger games were televised) and (2) students could bring booze into the stands with them. While it was not legal to do so, there were no searches, the legal drinking age was 19 (so most students could stop at the liquor store on their way to the stadium), and the rent-a-cops were more concerned about removing empty bottles to prevent breakage than ejecting the students who brought them. They were there to protect and to serve. During one game, the guys behind me literally brought enough (full-size) bottles to stock a bar. They all wore trench coats to smuggle them in. None of them got thrown out.

Obscene chants were just as prevelent back then, including "Who Gives a Shit? We Came to See the Band!" (shouted when the game wasn't going well for the Badgers). How's that for loyalty? Things finally got out of hand when, in either 1984 or 1985 if I recall correctly, fans started tearing up the fiberglass bench-covers and passing them. One asshole threw one over the top, narrowly missing a pedestrian below. He was sentenced to several weekends of cleaning toilets at the stadium the next Fall (which was really inconvenient, since he graduated and moved to California in the interim -- he had to fly back on home football weekends to serve his sentence).

And as for the complaints by visiting fans that they are subjected to obscenities on their way to and from the stadium, that's tame. Back in the 1980s, Iowa coach Hayden Frye was allegedly showered with peppermint schnapps by UW students as he emerged from the tunnel.

In short, Mr. Grimm, the UW is not better than that, and it hasn't been for over two decades. If you are just starting to notice now, I commend the efficacy of modern corrective lenses and hearing aids.


Tim Morrissey said...

Well-said, Ms. Sixpack. During my college days, back in the mid-60's, nobody even WENT to the games. They lost something like 25 in a row under John Coatta. Ever since the earliest dawn of the Don Morton days, the game-day behavior has become progressively more extreme. The chanting and rowdiness, as you point out, have been going on for decades.

Ordinary Jill said...

The most extreme behavior that I remember (the in-stadium alcohol consumption and bleacher-passing incidents) occurred just before Don Morton's tenure.

Dustin Christopher said...

This is just fantastic. Thank you for defying the stereotype that no one over 24 is any fun at all. You give me hope for my increasingly immediate future.

Jim said...

Thanks for that, I always appreciate when someone refutes the old "kids-these-days" argument.

Ordinary Jill said...

Actually, it was my experience that, on football road trips, the middle-aged alumni were far bigger party animals than the college kids (who tended to pass out hours before the alumni stopped drinking).