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Point/Counterpoint: Should the 'sucks chant' stay or go?

BY DI STAFF | JANUARY 28, 2014 5:00 AM

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On Jan. 17, student season-ticket holders and members of the Hawks Nest were sent an email from Athletics Director Gary Barta. In the message, the recipients were encouraged to abandon the “tradition” of yelling “sucks” as the opposing team is introduced in Carver-Hawkeye. In Iowa’s most recent home games, the Hawkeye Pep Band has played over the yells, but a large section of students have chosen to continue the chant. Our sports staff debates: The “sucks” chant — stay or go?

Keep it

Gary Barta needs to suck it up and deal with the “sucks” chant.

While some think the “sucks” chant after opposing players are introduced is childish or unsportsmanlike, it’s harmless.

The timing of the email discouraging the yell is a curious to me.  Hawks Nest has been doing this for years — yes, even in the dark days of Todd Lickliter. So why try to stop it now? Because Iowa is a blossoming team with more attention focused on it?

Only a few years ago, you could not pay students to show up. Now that the student section is full, the university wants to tell them what they are allowed to say? Come on. At least students aren’t sending death threats to players like some at other schools have in recent months.

Iowa isn’t the only school that does it or something similar. Our future Big Ten bros at Maryland do the same exact thing. The PA guy even pauses for them to yell it out.

If I were one of these officials, I would be more concerned about personal attacks that a handful of individuals in Hawks Nest have made toward opposing players.

When Minnesota came to Carver last season, several members of Hawks Nest chanted “DUI” or “Hide the keys” at former Gopher standout Trevor Mbakwe as he shot free throws just weeks after an arrest in Minneapolis. Mbakwe was visibly affected during the second half, playing a key role in the visitors’ collapse down the stretch.

Security didn’t do anything to stop that, but they’ll warn me not to drop an F-bomb when an official makes an asinine call (it’s happened twice this season). Is a mass chant of a word you can say on TV that much worse than targeting the feelings of one individual player?

I find it ironic that an Athletics Department that auctioned off the infamous chair that head coach Fran McCaffery slammed is now preaching sportsmanship. There were even shirts made that said “Let’s Get Mad Again” when McCaffery was hired four years ago.

So which is it? Is Hawks Nest and Carver-Hawkeye supposed to be intimidating and loud or a library? It really sucks that the Athletics Department can’t decide.

— Kevin Glueck

Do away with it

It’s been too long since we have been able to say Iowa has a legitimate men’s basketball program. So, you know, it would be nice if its student section started acting like it.

Yes, the “sucks” chant is harmless, many other fan bases around the country are known for their not-so-nice treatment of rival athletes, and Iowa’s Athletics Department may be trying too hard to stop an otherwise meaningless act. 

But do you know why Duke is known for how opposing spectators treat their players or why Purdue fans get so rowdy when Indiana travels to West Lafayette? It’s because Duke and Indiana have two of the best college-basketball programs in the country.

The teams that consistently get berated and cursed at by Keystone Light-induced frat bros are the ones you’ll see play deep into March and sometimes all the way in to April.

As a fan, you should want your team to be the one playing in hostile environments on the road. That’s when you know you’re doing something right.

Let’s be clear. Opposing teams are going to have a hard time winning in Carver-Hawkeye this year because the kids donning Black and Gold can compete with anybody in the country, not because a group of clowns yelled “sucks” during players’ pregame intros.

But if you really want to be a respected student section, don’t be the only portion of the stadium with empty seats, and more importantly, skip the cute chants that made everyone giggle at high-school games. Find something original to do, and be good at it.

Iowa basketball has reached “big time” status. It would be cool if the student section allowed itself to reach that level as well.

— Ryan Probasco


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