University of Michigan director of athletics Dave Brandon will regularly offer his view on a variety of topics related to U-M and intercollegiate sports. All his posts, along with links to related content, will be available on his page, mgoblue.com/brandon, and he is also on Twitter at @DaveBrandonAD.
Childish antics, pathetic name-calling and disruptive conduct are all too common at many sporting events. I understand that some new professional stadiums have been designed to include jails to deal with some of the fans who let their behavior get out of hand. College sports are not immune from those problems, but thankfully, we have fewer issues.
University athletic departments (and pro organizations) have created programs to highlight respect and sportsmanship to help maintain a safe and fun atmosphere that is healthy for fans of all ages. Some of these programs get a great deal of publicity; others don't. Many departments have professionals to develop community and public relations messages and assist in conveying them to the public; others don't.
Many times, initiatives like this work best when they start at the grass roots level. Here at the University of Michigan, a student initiative is now underway to change certain chants coming from the student section at some of our events. These chants are not consistent with the image we all want our university to have with fans around the country.
On Saturday (Sept. 8), at our football home opener against Air Force, the U-M student group worked toward pulling off its first "respectful" sporting event by getting students in the Big House to refrain from using the "you suck" chant after the Michigan Marching Band played its rendition of the song "Temptation." Social media efforts on Facebook along with other messaging, including a Friday editorial in the Michigan Daily, were used to carry the message and gain support.
While they note that university administration has suggested that it might be necessary to have the band stop playing "Temptation," the group reminds U-M students that the chant is considered "immature by our respected alumni base" and threats are not the basis of this initiative.
The plan is for respect, and not just respect at a football game or other sporting events. This group of U-M students is using this platform as a first step in eliminating negativity and encouraging respect in everyday life.
This is a tall task, but it is important that the people who haven't heard about this effort at least know about it and can give strong consideration to supporting it in every way.
Sometimes we hear comments from those who are worried about the values and leadership of today's younger generation. As one who works every day on our campus, I can attest to the fact that most of our students act with dignity, respect and thoughtfulness.
The influence of highly motivated college students -- their attitudes, their beliefs, their knowledge, their passion and their will -- should never be underestimated!
Our students picked a great game to start the process of modifying some of the inappropriate student chants. It was the opener and it was against Air Force, a team comprised of individuals who have committed to serving our country and protecting our freedom for at least four years following their time at the academy. We wanted to win the game, but nobody should be treating these young men with anything but respect and admiration for who they are and what they represent. And, this should be the case with every team that visits our community to compete against our university.
If our U-M students continue their efforts to stop the "inappropriate chants," they will also be creating momentum for others to make changes that will create higher levels of respect and dignity in everyday life.
Kudos to these U-M students for this important and admirable effort!!
Thank you and Go Blue!
Michigan Daily Article (9/6/2012)