Fan reaction during apparent athlete injury inappropriate

James Farmer

There are few rules that sports fans abide by, and the consequences of breaking those rules can have effects on the game. Last Saturday, App. State fans broke what I consider to be the most sacred of fan rules: Always respect an injured player.

During the fourth quarter of the game, senior defensive tackle and face of GSU football Brent Russell went down with an apparent leg injury. Respectfully, the GSU fans all took a seat.

Then all hell broke loose. The App. State fans remained standing for reasons unknown to me, and the GSU fan base noticed. In a loud display of unity, the GSU student side launched into a chant that shouldn’t be repeated in polite company. This sudden and inspired verbal barrage upon the App. State fan section energized the crowd, and it wasn’t long until the Eagles embarked on their final drive. Feeding off the energy, the Eagles managed to convert a fourth down conversion and get into a favorable scoring position, only to have the fourth down nullified by a block in the back.

This sudden display of fan unity is what happens when the body stops hating an opponent simply for whom they cheer for and starts having a legitimate reason to wish the destruction of that opponent’s goals due to their actions. The fans — and players for that matter — have an extra push to impose their will upon the opponents, and the results, whether they are the noise and passion of the student body or the aggressiveness and violence of the players, usually improve.

The reasons for this explosive reaction to breaking the unwritten fan rules were magnified due to the situation. The game itself, with its high stakes and record crowd, provided plenty of fuel for a violent fan reaction. Compound that with the shoddy officiating and the fact that the injured player was the most loved player on the Eagles’ squad, and you have a veritable powder keg of potential emotional outburst.

While I cannot condone the words used in the sudden outburst, I understand the reasons why. Fans are there to express their emotions and swing momentum based on their environment. GSU fans succeeded in doing that Saturday.