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Mason calls for sportsmanship ahead of Penn State game

BY LAUREN COFFEY | OCTOBER 18, 2012 6:30 AM

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In light of the sanctions against Penn State University’s football program, University of Iowa President Sally Mason and other UI officials are concerned students may go too far with poor sportsmanship during Saturday’s game.

Mason told The Daily Iowan in an interview Wednesday she hopes to see an increase in good sportsmanship, not only for Saturday’s football game against Penn State, but for the rest of the season.

“I would really love it if instead of booing the team, which seems to happen all too often,” Mason said. “You know I see more and more fans from other institutions telling me that that’s not they way they do it at their institution. When the opposing team comes in, Nebraska has been an example where they don’t boo them. They don’t necessarily applaud them, either, but they’re cordial, they’re good hosts, and I’d love to see our crowd do that for Penn State.”

UI Student Government and the Hawks Nest have joined forces to create a social-media challenge for students to be more respectful towards Penn State. The slogan states “We are the Big Ten: Welcome Our Big Ten Rivals with Respect.”

“Sportsmanship is always important,” UISG President Nic Pottebaum said. “We want to welcome Penn State with respect. The players, the students, the referees as well.”

Hawks Nest President T.J. McCann said although overall he does not think respect is an issue at the UI, certain games can lead to some issues.

“[Disrespecting opposing teams] is a case-by-case basis,” he said. “In general I don’t think it’s too bad. Certain things pop up that poses an issue, like with Penn State, it’s a national thing.”

UISG and Hawks Nest ask fans to refrain from booing when the opposing team enters the field, cheer during the game without degrading Penn State, and respect the game officials.

Students generally agree poor sportsmanship happens at games, and especially with situations such as Penn State’s, it could go too far.

“I would definitely be more careful [with Penn State],” fifth-year student Lisa Esdorn said. “In the past, there have been shirts made with offensive language, and yeah, they’re funny, but I’m personally afraid of choosing offensive language that talks about rape or children. I don’t think that’s something we want.”

One first-year UI medical student received his undergraduate degree from Iowa State University, getting to see both sides of sportsmanship at the UI.

“Being in Ames, it isn’t all Cyclones, it’s a really good mix,” Matthew Donahue said. “You don’t have that here in Iowa City; it’s more polarized. I’ve seen more [disrespect towards opposing team’s fans] here than anywhere else.”

Other universities and fans do not see a difference in sportsmanship with UI students in relation to other university students.

“The fans blend in pretty well,” said Tyler Smith, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln junior who attended the Iowa/Nebraska game last year. “There are  always a few freshman [who are more disrespectful], but everyone else was pretty respectful.”

Big Ten university officials take efforts to increase respect in their own schools, and said they have not noticed a lack of respect at the UI.

“On campus, we have an organization called Wildside,” said Scott Hammer, Northwestern University director for athletics communications. “We sit down and have meetings about expectations and what’s acceptable and what’s not. If students do not conduct themselves well at games they know who they will talk to.”

Overall, officials can agree an increase in sportsmanship would help the family-friendly atmosphere the university is striving for Kinnick Stadium to have.

“We have so many people say they like to bring their children, their grandchildren, [to Hawkeye games],” Mason said. “They want to come and enjoy themselves. It’s hard to enjoy themselves when you’ve got drunks around you, if you’ve got people that are wearing T-shirts or sweatshirts that have derogatory or just profane language. That’s just bad, and it certainly doesn’t promote any family friendly atmosphere.”


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