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Monday, March 19, 2012

Too Old to Worry About Bugging Valley Indians or Portsmouth Trojans



I've been thinking about the allegations, the denials, and the heated debate concerning the basketball tournament game between two local schools, Valley and PHS. After I read the story and all of the reader comments in the Portsmouth Daily Times and on Facebook, I can honestly say that the most disturbing thing about the entire incident and its aftermath is that people hold such definite, linear opinions despite the facts.

It seems people are quick to judge within their own framework of reference, no matter what actually happened. In a court of law, any past occurrences not directly related to the behavior of the fans at this particular game could not be used as evidence. Speculation and connotation would be challenged and likely stricken from record. A judge would warn the two parties to "stick to the facts." And, the extent of  injury, if any in fact did occur, would be the judgment of the court. It would be called a "decision."

The obvious truth to me is that such a judgment would be celebrated by the winning party and bemoaned by the losing party, and sadly, no one's personal opinion would change.

Am I right? I think, the views about the actions of the crowd, Valley and PHS in composition, are so adamantly set that a slim chance for a new, enlightened perspective does not exist. The public is not going to be swayed by something as important as the facts. The kin, the race, the school, the friends -- the allegiance of the fan is stronger than the will to accept any blame. To me, that is unacceptable fanaticism.

Just look at the reasons people used for judgment after the fact:

1. The emotional heat of the closely contested rivalry,
2. The inadequate, unfair and untimely report of the press explaining the cheers,
3. The meaning, innuendo and connotations of the uttered speech,
4. The blame for past indecencies and the desire for payback,
5. The ignition of the SOC racial controversy during the tournament,
6. The "no big deal" attitude toward taunting costumes, chants and behaviors,
7. The allegations of racism, reverse racism, and use of the "race card,"
8. The facts concerning the decision to pursue the sting of improper behaviors,
9. The "pass the buck" and we will take care of things "in house" resolutions,
10. The belief in just about anything "shady" done by either school in recorded history.

I hold with the idea that the differences between Valley and PHS create a mindset in many fans that makes jeering easy and acceptable. To me, both schools are unique in composition and that very fact does not "set" with some fans' opinions of mutual respect. Opposition, not competition, is responsible for painting a villain. Of course, neither school is entirely blameless for creating opposition.

Is color the issue? Is the accusation of racism the issue? Is Mom or Dad's view the issue?  Is this type of jeering perfectly acceptable from today's fan base? Is this a ploy for sympathy or an honest plea of those in charge? Does your school do more nasty things than my school? Does anyone really care? 

You know, I wasn't there. I did think about attending, but now, I'm glad I didn't go to the game. So, there -- I am not a witness nor do I want to be a witness. I don't want to "stir things up" in my blog and "make everything worse." I don't want students or fans of both schools to hate each other or to seek revenge. I do, however, reserve the right to my opinion based on the "loose" facts.

I have a lot of time and family and money invested in Valley and in PHS. I am able to love both schools, so I think I should be able to quarrel a little with both in a positive manner.

My concern is that insult leads to insult. Undertones lead to actions that are not connotative but denotative. I cannot believe that challenging banter and sniping gamesmanship of either school is proper behavior for a competitive event. If it is, I expect that old, set opinions will never change. Mockery will only reinforce old thinking and, most likely, encourage younger generations to "believe what I told you about that school."

I suggest the student bodies (all student bodies, for that matter) vow to cheer for their own school and cease any future "commentary" about their opponents, no matter how "different" or "distasteful" their foes may be. Don't even go with the questionable behaviors. Leave the "trash talk" for the "trashy people" who prefer to see such behavior as proper conduct in their "trashy lives." Otherwise, ladies and gentlemen, what have we become?

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