Tech’s victory against Clemson started a lot of chatter around campus, not just about the victory, but also about fan behavior at the game. As one of this week’s letters to the editor indicates, many Tech fans crossed a line. Reports of students mistreating game staff, even knocking over a referee when storming the field, only reinforce this claim. The Clemson band reported thefts by Tech fans and asked security to stand between them and the student section.
Some could argue that rivalry is in the spirit of football, and that such incidents are just harmless fun. Keep in mind, though, that Tech’s rivalry with Georgia began when Tech’s team was treated poorly by Georgia fans, and Tech fans’ attitude towards “Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate,” has always been based on the perception that Tech operates at a level of class above that of UGA. Fan behavior at Saturday’s game and, before, at the 2008 Georgia game and the 2007 Boston College game—where behavior was so bad that it sparked the Gold Standard initiative — shatters any view that Tech is an institution with class.
Fans should remember that, after the game is over, people will remember Tech fans’ behavior in the stadium. Football games are popular recruiting events, and it is hard to convince a parent that Tech is a welcoming, intellectual place for their child after they spend three hours next to a profanity-spewing drunk. Moreover, students should remember that if the stereotype of the Tech student becomes one of drunken aggression, the onus is on the students to prove to employers that Tech students can, in fact, be professional.
A line has to be drawn between good-natured heckling of a rival school and plain harassment of an individual from that school. By all means, make fun of their school, call into question their intelligence and imply things about their upbringing, but at the end of the day, only say things that you could joke about with their fans about over a beer at a tailgate.