To the Editor:
The Hartford Courant called the Yale-Princeton basketball crowd “raucous,” head coach James Jones described the game as having “a wonderful atmosphere,” and the Register’s sports report said that “the incredible noise generated by the whooping crowd rattled the Princeton team.”
However, some letters to the editor have labeled Yale fans as insensitive and have even suggested that Yale chants border on racism. Instead of focusing on one or two bad apples, we should all be proud of Yale’s fans for showing up in full force and supporting the team to victory.
Other schools aren’t nearly as polite as Yale. In 1984, Duke fans showered the floor of their Cameron Stadium with 1,000 pairs of panties in “honor” of a University of Maryland student accused of sexual assault. When two players on NC State’s basketball team were charged with larceny of pizza and a stereo, the floor of Cameron was covered with pizza boxes and headphones. And when Maryland lost in the 1999 NCAA quarterfinals, fans started a bonfire in the middle of campus with benches, mattresses, lawnmowers, and every other flammable object they could find.
So far, Yale fans have kept silent through the national anthem, kept their panties on, and left Old Campus unscorched; showing that we’re at least more respectful than those three schools.
The allegations that fans were making racial remarks about Princeton player Ahmed El-Nokali touch on the actions of only a small minority of those in attendance. As the Princeton radio broadcasters pointed out, Ahmed is one of Princeton’s most valuable players — there is a billboard with his face on it on the New Jersey Turnpike — and the consistent booing was initiated by a dirty play in the first half.
The comments that one or two fans made about his background should not indict the whole crowd. Similarly, only a small group was chanting “to-ken” at an African-American member of the Princeton team. Even those who were chanting it were hoping to mock the well-known lack of racial diversity at Princeton — just 7% of the student body is African-American, according to US News, compared to 12.9% of the national population according to the 2000 US Census — rather than make any implication about the merit of an individual.
As for complaints about cheers ending in “-sucks” and involving “bull—-,” those are standard fare for any college basketball program. They are chanted at games from George Mason (CAC) to Duke (ACC) to Stanford (PAC-10) and would be nearly impossible to stop. Any eight-year-old has already learned far worse language on the playground.
The Yale fans are a source of pride for the school and have helped the basketball program succeed. It is undeniable that Yale fans are innovative, effective, and loud. Let’s crash Princeton’s house this Friday and show them how dedicated Yale’s fans are.
David Thompson ’02
February 18, 2002
The writer is a former Online Director of the Yale Daily News.