Cultural mores are shifting around us all the time in ways we don’t always appreciate.
An example: It’s been a long time since I was a student at Maryland, and even then, the student section that once terrorized the families of Duke basketball players was becoming more and more sedate. The last “riot” in College Park I experienced as a student was in 2010, and the police wound up being the most serious aggressors.
But perhaps things haven’t changed enough. A concerning report from Indianapolis Star columnist Gregg Doyel accused the Terps crowd of acting “boorishly,” noting “the one thing you can always count on seeing at Maryland: obnoxiousness.”
A pressing example of such behavior:
After Purdue guard Lance Jones air-balled a 3-pointer early in the game, the crowd gleefully shrieked “air ball, air ball” every time he touched the ball. This continued until early in the second half, when Jones touched the ball three times in 2½ minutes — and made a 3-pointer all three times.
The crowd left him alone after that.
OK, not exactly what I was expecting when Doyel wrote of Terps fans: “They’re consistently good at being awful.”
I’ve been to many basketball games at many levels throughout many parts of the country — hearing an “air ball!” chant when a visiting player misses the rim is almost universal. Nothing is exceptionally boorish about that Maryland tradition.
I suppose our quaint mid-Atlantic ways might seem offensive to buttoned-up Midwestern sensibilities — aside from the times Purdue fans chant “IU Sucks” (covered here by The Star) or when Indiana fans chanted an expletive at Purdue center Matt Haarms (covered here by The Star).
Maybe these incidents were one-offs. Or maybe teenaged and 20-something students tend to air a little on the obnoxious side. Who can say?
The thing is: Gregg Doyel is a respected, award-winning columnist, one I’ve enjoyed reading from time to time. It made me think about how even the best folks doing this job, the ones who can knock stories out of the park, occasionally hit a slow dribbler.
Actually, the more I think about this take — the sports personification of “Old Man Yells At Cloud” — the more I think to myself: Wait, I actually get it.
I actually have hot takes like this, too. Ones that I know might seem like me telling kids to get off my lawn. And maybe they are.
So in honor of Gregg, here are a few of my takes that I’ve been dying to get off my chest as I shake my fist at the sky:
Team jerseys should be in a team’s classic colors!
Not long ago I was watching a basketball game in which the Dallas Mavericks were wearing hunter green and the Los Angeles Lakers were wearing powder blue. Excuse me? I spent the first quarter adjusting my brain from trying to unscramble the color schemes. Don’t the Mavs wear blue and white, and the Lakers wear purple and gold? Shouldn’t it be that simple?
To me, when you flip on the TV, the teams you’re watching should be immediately identified by their distinct brands, which starts with their color scheme. When the Portland Trail Blazers wear city edition jerseys that are seafoam like the city airport carpet, we’ve jumped the shark.
The transfer portal is too confusing!
I’m not saying the transfer portal should end. I’m saying I’m literally confused by rosters constantly shaking up and players zipping to and fro around the country. Shoot, JT Daniels was at USC, Georgia, West Virginia and most recently Rice. Who can keep up?
It almost makes you long for the days when players could only receive scholarships and had to sit out a year to transfer while multimillion-dollar coaches traveled freely with heavyweight boosters paying their enormous buyouts. Ah, nostalgia!
Draft shows are too long!
I’m old enough to remember when the NFL didn’t need three days to draft players. Oh, how I long for those days. The old draft was enough of an endurance trial as it was; now it’s a whole weekend of getting excited for “The Pick Is In!” graphic followed by bewilderment as you try to research who the heck your team just took. Sure, there are feel-good stories, especially in the first round, but after a few hours, even the broadcasters’ eyes glaze over.
Do teams really need three days to find the right sixth-round tight end who will eventually be a training camp cut? And yet for some reason — probably the sports fallacy that a brighter future is always around the corner — these broadcasts somehow do well. Now the NBA has discussed breaking up their draft over two days. My stomach curdles at the tedium.
Home run ‘trophies’ are corny!
All of us Marylanders know there is one True and Good home run celebration ritual, and that’s the homer hose (known as the dong bong in our hearts). But look at this list of the various home run wearable items that teams have concocted: The samurai helmet? The powdered wig? The cheesehead? The gladiator mask?
There was a time when just hitting the ball outta the park was met with a polite hat tip and an appropriately paced jog. The celebration was putting the run on the board. I’m all for a bat flip, but the proliferation of all these team-specific items feels forced.
Now that I’ve gotten all these takes out of my system, I know what you’re thinking.
Lighten up, will ya?
You’re right. We all should.