Taking a Closer Look at UMD Fan Conduct

By Tom George
|  Monday, Nov 29, 2010  |  Updated 4:46 PM EDT
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UMD Officials Keep Eyes on Fan Conduct

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Testudo, the Maryland Terrapins' mascot, has a bit of fun during the second round game between the Maryland Terrapins and the Memphis Tigers.

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UMD Officials Keep Eyes on Fan Conduct

The University of Maryland is keeping a watchful eye on fan conduct at sporting events.
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As the seconds ticked off the shot clock on March 3, 2010, University of Maryland men's basketball fans prepared to rush the court in the wake of the Terps’ 79-72 upset victory over archrival Duke.

But the celebration didn’t stop there.

Students celebrated by taking over the streets of College Park and clashing with police, making for a riot that sparked accusations of police brutality and made national headlines, all dampening the view of the university student body in the eyes of the public.

Now, UMD’s new president Wallace Loh wants to make fan conduct a top priority in his new administration. After Maryland fans used the “f-word” toward uniformed Naval cadets during the first football game against Navy in Baltimore, Loh told the Diamondback student newspaper that he finds that kind of conduct “simply not acceptable,” adding that it “reflects poorly on the university.”

In a recent e-mail to students, Kevin Anderson, the newly appointed athletics director, agreed, saying that the athletics department is the “front porch of the university,” and that when students act inappropriately, it gives the entire university a bad name. According to the UMD Student Government Association, family ticket packages against non-conference opponents are down 40 percent this year, a statistic that may be in part due to the negative press after the rioting in March.

Loh wants to implement a new fan conduct policy that would work with the SGA to create a committee to improve sportsmanship at sporting events.

But many students say this effort would likely be unsuccessful, arguing that the fans' enthusiasm for their team, the energy in the stands, and the deafening cheers that might occasionally include a word not suitable for broadcast, is all part of tradition and the college experience. In fact, Comcast Center was ranked first among the top five toughest college basketball crowds in America, according to FanNation.com, and most students are proud of the atmosphere they create at home games.

“It makes it more exciting,” said sophomore Elana Mayer. “It’s better when crowds are rowdy because it’s more fun.”

Maryland uses a system of loyalty points for student tickets. Tickets are free to students, but students who attend more games have a higher priority for access to big name ACC games such as UNC or Duke.

Many argue that having a student policing student language during a boisterous football or basketball game would be completely ineffective and would limit students’ rights to free speech.

“Especially if this is the first thing Loh does as president, it’s going to build a lot of student resistance to his policies,” said senior Stephanie von Numers. “It’s not a good idea to get students upset with him right as he’s just taking office.”

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